Father’s Day In Preschool When There’s No Dad

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Father’s Day is Sunday. I read about how other people handled Father’s Day in their own lesbian homes and everyone is a little different. Some people are celebrating their day by giving Father’s Day to their partner, while they have Mother’s Day. Or others who don’t celebrate at all. Or some who explain what it is, but just that other people celebrate. And then there are some like our family.

We celebrate the men in Punky’s life. It’s lovingly referred to as “Papa/Uncle Day” and its a super special time. It really does keep in our minds how lucky Punky is. How loved she is and how many male role models she has in her life.

And then there are days like yesterday that squash the ideas and my happy little bubble.

I picked up Punky from school and she had painted a tie picture for Father’s Day. When her teacher handed it to me, I smiled and said thank you. It was super cute and when I picked Punky up in my arms and asked what she made she replied with:

“I made it for Daddy.”

Insert stomach drop here. Heart sinking feeling. Disappointment washed over me.

“Can we give it to Papa, sweetie? You don’t have a Daddy, but you do have a Papa!” I suggested an alternative and tried my best to curb my anger at the tone of my voice.

This whole thing had put me in an awkward position. I was having to vocally tell my two year old she doesn’t have a Daddy. And why? Because all day, or at least while they were painting, the teachers (who know she has two moms) were repeating over and over, what I am sure they thought was a simple and non-offensive phrase, “Let’s make a present for Daddy.” 

I am absolutely sure this shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is to me. I am extra sensitive right now – I have noticed, with all the stress of Kim’s health and how that has effected us in regards to childcare, finances and just daily life – I’m pretty snappy.

I didn’t bring it up to her teacher at the time and I probably won’t, because by the time she goes back to school, Father’s Day will be over and it won’t matter. It will be a whole year before we have to deal (wishful thinking here) with the whole Daddy thing again. The only reason we are dealing with it right now is because of the holiday that is coming up.

Kim tried to get me to logically see that this wasn’t an issue. It’s Father’s Day. They didn’t think about. Blah Blah Blah. But, its not just Punky who doesn’t have a father. I mean there are plenty of kids who don’t have dads in their lives. They have deadbeat dads, actual dead dads, or any number of other types of families. I just felt like they should have been more vigilant in their wording.

We have a specific way we refer to her donor, and it’s not Daddy. She’s only met her donor once, before she could actually remember meeting him. She doesn’t know what it means to have a donor, she’s fucking two. But, the last thing I want to have to do – is try and explain to a two year old what a Daddy is and why she doesn’t have one and other people do.

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Its probably just because I’m in a funk, and its effecting me more than I should let it. More than it really needs to. But, the last thing I ever want Punky to feel is “left out” – especially on a holiday that the freaking whole nation celebrates in some way. Which is why we came up with Papa/Uncle Day. It’s her way to giving presents still and celebrating the holiday without having to discuss “Father’s Day”.

So, I guess for now, its not as big a deal as I wanted to make it and I am not going to freak out on the teacher. But, it does remind me that our family is different and it also reminded me that people don’t really take into consideration that my child may need different things when it comes to holidays.

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There are a ton of Christian people who ask why atheists get so ‘uptight’ about their religion being taught in public schools or religion being brought up outside of the church. It’s the same concept as what I’m talking about in regards to Father’s Day.

Not everyone celebrates the same. Not everyone believes the same. And while, I have no problem with my daughter being exposed to other things and I’m not asking that Father’s Day be banned from school – I am asking that we take into consideration that one phrase or one belief is not depicted as the only way or the RIGHT way to say the phrase or believe the belief.

When I heard her say “I made for Daddy.” it was a definitive phrase, like there was no one else that tie painting could be for. Like she wasn’t given any other choices. But she has other choices. So, instead of narrowing the field and bringing on just one word in regards to the holiday, expose kids to differences, let them explore and learn different ways to celebrate, include everyone’s beliefs and everyone’s version of the holiday.

So, just like religion being introduced to my kid. I am not upset that she was exposed to “Daddy”. I am upset she wasn’t given another option to consider. Just the same for church. I don’t care if you talk to my kid about Jesus or God. I don’t care if she’s exposed to it, I want her to be able to explore on her own – but I also want her to be given the choice to explore more than just the one choice and be told it’s the only choice there is.

Because in the end, there’s just not one right way in any subject, its all perception and circumstances. She needs to be able to make up her own mind. And, yes, she’s only 2 so this is a little deep and a little heavy for me to be thinking about – but damnit, it really bothered me.

Now, I need to figure out a better way to head this off before it becomes an issue when she’s older, when it may actually effect her in a real negative way.

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2 thoughts on “Father’s Day In Preschool When There’s No Dad

  1. Maybe the teachers did offer alternatives than just “daddy”, and she heard other kids saying they were making it for daddy?

    I always HATED Father’s Day when I was a kid and in school, because my dad died when I was 6 and it broke my heart a million times over to see everyone making stuff for daddy when mine was 6 feet under. Back then, teachers weren’t nearly as sensitive to different family structures as they are now.

    I understand your frustration with all of this because really, Punky *is* too little to explain all of this to, in a way that ensures she’ll really ‘get’ it. But at the same time, that also means she’s too little to really feel like she’s missing out. You explained to her that she could give it to Papa and I’m assuming that was enough for her? If it was, then good. There’s always the option to chat ahead of time with the teacher next year re: languaging.

    • Yea, rationally I know what you say is true! And you make a great point, they may have given other wording, I didn’t really allow that thought in my head until you said that! Giving the tie painting to her Papa was good enough for her. You’re right, it needs to be good enough for me!

      See, this is why I have people like you around!

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