When I was five, and my mom and dad had split, my dad went in to talk to my Kindergarten teacher before school started and told her, “She’s going to be left handed.”
The teacher didn’t believe him–he was a man, it was 1972, and men didn’t know jack about parenting, and so the useless experiment with me and the crayon in my right hand began.
In 1998, when Big T was 4 and we went to meet his pre-school teacher, Mate was going to school and working nights while I taught full time–Mate actually spent more time with Chicken and ‘T’ than I did. And so I was reasonably appalled when T’s future teacher (who is all in all a very nice lady–we went to her retirement party and gave her a mug with a grown-up and a 1st grade picture of T on it–she cried) walked around Mate and came up to talk to me. During the ensuing meeting, she directed all questions to me, even though I had to defer a lot of them to Mate. It was embarrassing, but it also made me a little angry on behalf of all men everywhere. Where is it written that the Dad is the inferior parent?
It’s not. My dad was my sole parent for a while, and I could point out all sorts of mistakes he made (there is an incident with an alligator lizard that he will never live down, and rightly so) –but I could also point out that he fed me, clothed me, and let me know I was cared for while working, going to school, and making an income so miniscule it could be measured in the bottom half of three figures. I never had a Christmas without presents, and although we forgot Easter once, my birthday was never once forgotten. And of course, let’s not forget that he went out and found me a kick-ass step-mom, too. I mean, if a dad’s gonna make a good decision, that would be THE one to make, right? (Remember what happened to Cinderella? *shudder* No one wants that.) So my dad was sort of my high-watermark for a dad, and you know? Mate’s done me proud.
Mate is signed up to do security for Chicken’s dance recital–he’s done this for the last couple of years, and I feel vaguely guilty because, well, I haven’t. I’ve helped clean up the high school where it’s held, and done some sewing and some other stuff, but I’ve never been back stage, even though Chicken used to beg me. But Mate can get it done. And Mate’s done that a lot. Mate does orthodontist appointments and school events and soccer games. Mate does karate and doctor’s appointments and sick days. Mate does KIDS, for better and for worse, for spankings and for ticklings, and he does it well. He sets up computer games and oversees internet connections and signs kids up for school. I could nag about a bathroom entering it’s second year in limbo, but I won’t. Mate helps me with the house and tells me to sit down when my feet hurt and forgives me for my yarn addiction and the space that it eats up. I can forgive a bathroom–I can forgive a lot of things, as long as I have my Mate, sitting next to me in the car, cracking one liners and harassing the useless teenagers, I mean beloved older children, and then cooing over the total and complete cuteness of Ladybug, who has him wrapped (as did her older sister) completely around her finger.
Yesterday he took a look at the fat rabid squirrel that is my hair and fanned out his hands. “Jazz-hair” he said, complete with finger twitching. I laughed my ass off–I’m still laughing my ass off.
Today, we went to my grandparents for a late lunch and to give my grandpa chocolate for what looks to be his last father’s day. Mate played with his children while I visited, which is what he always does. I watched him, and then watched my grandpa, whom I’ve always idolized a little for various reasons I won’t go into now, and thought, “Gee–I’m forty years old, I still have my grandpa, still have my father, and I still love my husband. I did have a lucky star or something, didn’t I?”
Now Mate and I were young and skinny when we met–in fact, the two of us then probably weighed what I do now–and stupid and cute and naive and so very in love.
I wasn’t thinking of what kind of father he’d make. I wasn’t thinking about a week where we’d have four kids and six activities work around our own anniversary. I was thinking that he was cute and he made me hot, and really, when you’re nineteen, what else is there?
Well, wasn’t I lucky, because the duties of Mate/Dad are myriad and frightening, and while he does let a few of them drop, well, that’s a lot of balls in the air, baby, and I just love to watch the other one’s fly.
Happy Dad’s day, Daddy. Happy Dad’s day, Mate. You guys are the ones that made this day special–we just provided the home made cards.