This post comes courtesy of Wee friend and writer Dorothy Robinson, who is mom to 4-year-old Sam and 9-month-old Kit. You should be sure to check out her (hilarious) blog, The Tankini Files.
Two kids in the same daycare but in two different classes means two different e-mail chains from class parents. Which is very exciting and not at all anxiety-producing. Really! (For the uninitiated, a class parent is basically the liaison between the teachers of the class and the other parents. They help organize teacher gifts/parties for Christmas, Teacher Appreciation Week, end of year, etc. You also may be called to send out reminders to parents about parties or volunteering or any other notices.)
I received an email the other day from the class parent of my youngest’s class, asking if anyone wanted to take on the duties of class parent for the next year.
My first thought was, “No fucking way.”
My second thought, was, “Wouldn’t it be cool if a Dad volunteered to be class parent?”
I * almost* emailed that suggestion back to the entire class list, like some kind of suburban, flabby Norma Rae. But I didn’t. Because I didn’t want to seem flippant. Or rude.
So I didn’t respond at all, like the adult I am.
But, well, why is it always the mom who is the class parent?
I then thought about my lovely husband. My helpful, wonderful, feminist husband, who is an amazing father and person and who helps me in so many ways to be the best wife and mother I can be. This wonderful man will never be class parent. Mainly because I asked him if he wanted to take one for the cause and he looked at me strangely and said, “No fucking way.”
This is probably a good thing as to be class parent means you have to read, respond and send emails and my husband “doesn’t really do” email, as he says.
And even if he checked email, he wouldn’t find the class email as he is somehow not on the distribution list and I am not pressing the issue as uuugggghhhhh MUST I DO EVERYTHING?
It’s fine. I read the emails and then text him what the emails say as that is the best, most efficient way to co-parent. Really!
Just because he doesn’t want to be class parent doesn’t mean he doesn’t help with the various responsibilities of being a parent within our daycare. We equally share in the responsibilities of drop off and pick up. He packs lunches and diapers. We split staying home when a kid is sick. He’s been a volunteer on a field trip (whereas I haven’t). He’s good. Look, compared to fathers a generation ago, he’s a benevolent God. If he were doing all of this in 1960, I’m pretty sure another mother would have offed me by now so she could marry him and marvel at the fact he loads the dishwasher and helps dress the kids in the morning.
But….he’s not going to be class parent. Probably because no other dads have taken the leap because they haven’t traditionally had to. And being first is weird and scary.
The women domination as class parent reminds me of the Sheryl Sandberg/Adam Grant Op-ed a few years ago about how women traditionally do all the “housework” at their place of employment. They wrote:
The Harvard professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter observed that women do the lion’s share of ‘office housework’ — administrative tasks that help but don’t pay off.
Someone has to take notes, serve on committees and plan meetings — and just as happens with housework at home, that someone is usually a woman.
Joan C. Williams, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, finds that professional women in business, law and science are still expected to bring cupcakes, answer phones and take notes. These activities don’t just use valuable time; they also cause women to miss opportunities. The person taking diligent notes in the meeting almost never makes the killer point.
It’s the same with kids in daycare and the moms being the ones who are tasked with being on top of the pleasantries and forms. Teacher appreciation week. The Christmas bonuses. The end-of-year bonuses. The bonus bonus (not a real thing but it kind of feels like it should be?). The various spirit-week outfits. Gwar Week (again, not a real thing but maybe we can make that happen?). Cat in the Hat week. Book Fair volunteering. The scheduling of vaccinations and flu shots. The forms (so many forms). This being the first week back to school, I have already gotten two emails about the need of photos of our children to hang on the walls of their respective classrooms. WHO HAS ACTUAL PRINT PHOTOS OF THEIR CHILDREN??
But nowhere are the gender scales more tipped than being class parent. Although I see a lot of dads also dropping off and picking up their kids and being chaperones on field trips, I don’t see them helping organize teacher gifts or shopping for cupcakes or sending out reminder emails.
We moms need a Dad Norma Rae. Someone who will stand up amongst the mommies and send out reminders about class gifts and school lunches. Someone who will be the person other moms send e-mails to, asking about protocol regarding class field-trip shirts. Someone who will do cupcakes.
If you’re a man and reading this and you care about equality, why not raise your hand for a year? You would be setting an amazing example for your children and all the other men you may know. Plus, imagine how much the other moms would be in awe of you. Do you have any idea how revolutionary this would be? Do you? It would blow everyone’s minds.
Anyway, think about it. That’s all we ask.