I’m not a Sitcom Dad


Fifteen minutes before it was time to leave for school yesterday, my daughter decided that she needed some make-up to “look pretty” for her teachers. Immediately after cleaning that up, with repeated face-palms for not getting a picture first, I watched her help herself to an open Gatorade bottle in the fridge and dribble half of it down her shirt.

Alaina likes to dress herself when she wakes up in the morning. These are very rarely the same outfits that she ultimately is taken into public wearing. Picking out her clothes for school can sometimes be a fairly time consuming process, partly because she seems to be outgrowing her clothes at an alarming rate, and partly because compromising with a three year old independent diva isn’t achieved quickly. These things take time and careful consideration.

Her mind was set on a Hello Kitty skirt. There was no going back from that, so there ensued a frantic search for a solid color T-shirt.  Here in New England we skipped spring this year, jumping from 40 to 70 degrees in the past week. Her summer clothes are neither sorted or easily accessible.  After throwing a handful of size 4 shirts around her room, I gave up, found a thin long sleeve shirt, and off we went.  This was the final result:




Raise your hand if your first thought after seeing that picture was “what kind of dumbass dad would dress his little girl like that in 70 degree weather?”

If your hand is up, raise the other one if you would have TOLD the daddy picking his kid up that you felt that way.

Anybody with two hands in the air is now invited to wave them around, do the hokey-pokey, and feel free to browse some of the older posts in my archives. You may not like the rest of this one.

Still here? Great!

To be fair, I am paraphrasing the woman’s words, but the condescending tone of voice is impossible to replicate on paper.  I was given a several minute lecture about how the students spend the last twenty minutes of the day outside and need to be dressed appropriately or they would have to stay inside.

My daughter had been running around and playing “chase” for the past twenty minutes.  Her cheeks were red. She was probably really looking forward to an ice cream sandwich when we returned home. I think we were still well inside the safe zone regarding permanent brain damage from heat stroke.

I stood there and took it on the chin, sightly embarrassed as there were plenty of other parents present.  I was mainly just afraid to speak. There is no telling what may have spewed forth had I opened my mouth, but I know myself well enough to be fairly certain it would not have been appropriate for children’s ears. I’m not sure the same level of self-control would have been present had my daughter been kept inside.

I have to wonder if my wife would have received the same lecture. Was this just another example of somebody stereotyping dads as blundering fools, gallantly trying their best until mommy saves the day? Two of her three school days I’m the parent dropping her off and picking her up. I’m not a television sitcom goofball father trying to keep his kid’s names straight while mommy has a spa day. Alaina didn’t have cold pizza for breakfast that morning. I didn’t use a spray bottle and a hairdryer to clean her ass. Yes, I’m a dad, but I’m perfectly capable of dressing my daughter every morning. I also do her hair and lots of other stuff that a lot of dads are doing nowadays.

Maybe I was being too sensitive. Her usual teacher was out yesterday and perhaps the assistant was just having a bad day. Perhaps she wasn’t trying to help out a helpless father.  Perhaps, or maybe we still have a ways to go before dads are looked at as equally competent parents.

I’ve watched all the same comedies. Home Improvement, According to Jim, Malcolm in The Middle.  Everybody Loves Raymond was the worst.  I’m closer to Phil Dunphy than Homer Simpson.

When she ran over to us, the woman actually asked Alaina if she was hot, trying to underscore her point apparently. To show me my mistake.  Alaina said no.

Criticize my parenting in front of my kid again and it may be unsuitable for network television. This is what real fathering looks like, and it’s a lot different from what you see on TV.



48 thoughts on “I’m not a Sitcom Dad”

  1. I think I would have told the teacher what actually happened and then what I felt and how I actually cared about her thoughts and concerns, lol. Of course in a polite fashion 🙂

    1. Loved this and having raised three of my own three-year-olds to the maturity of four, I think you did remarkably well! She’s even colour co-ordinated. Well done Dad!

  2. did teacher ever stop and think…hey maybe just maybe weather person may have been wrong about the forecast for today…I mean seriously…how many times do we get a dusting after they call for 6 inches and vice versa…..good job holding your tongue!

    1. I would have rather she stopped and thought “I should keep my two cents for when it is really warranted”

  3. I’m sorry. I don’t get it. Was the outfit not warm enough? Not cool enough? I had to convert F to C and 70 here is balmy and that outfit is entirely suitable. Sorry, I think I’m missing something.

    I worked in childcare for 20 years. If a child wasn’t dressed appropriately for the weather, you know what we did? We provided the missing hat, mitts, pants, whatever… because we know that life happens and that sometimes there are battles with a child over what to wear or there may be something major going on in that family’s life. Do families need lectures?! No.

    I remember when I was taking my ECD training, a woman came in to talk about the parent’s side of child care. She told a story of how her mother had died suddenly and while planning the final arrangements, her husband fell ill and was getting tests run for pancreatic cancer. She told us how she went to pick up her daughter from daycare after spending a long day in the hospital with her husband while he was getting tests run. Upon arriving at the centre the child care staff berated and admonished her for forgetting her daughter’s mittens and hat. She explained how in that moment all she could think of was at least she got her daughter fed and to the daycare.

    I never forgot that talk and maybe other teachers and childcare professionals should have a similar learning experience.

    Sorry about the rant. Obviously this is something that resonated with me.

    You’re good to have held your tongue but if it happens again, maybe there needs to be a talk.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. She felt it was too warm out for the shirt Alaina was wearing. It was the “silly daddy” tone of voice that really fired me up. The idea that I needed these things explained to me the same way I would explain to Alaina why she couldn’t wear tank tops to school during the winter.

  4. If I were you I would have told the teacher what had happened and why you’d let make her own decisions. There are so many life lessons we can teach our kids and teachers need to be aware of this. Good on you for keeping calm! Thank you so much for linking up to Sunday Stars xxx

    1. I didn’t feel I needed to justify myself to her, and to be honest, am not sure I would have kept my calm once I started talking!

  5. Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention – and for checking out my similar post (The New Dad Order) over on my site, too. It’s so important that we continue to bring awareness to the dudes that are doing their best to be awesome dads. We aren’t all those foolish peeps we see in the media all of the time. We aren’t babysitting our kids. We are parenting. Great story.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Pete has a blog over at DaddyMindTricks.com that I’d encourage my readers to go check out. Good stuff

  6. This is so weird!? I just cannot understand why anyone — WHO WORKS WITH CHILDREN — would be asking this question?!!! If I’d have seen your little girl, that question wouldn’t even have crossed my mind! Because I HAVE two toddlers! LOL! Anyone who spends any time with tiny children should know full well that they like to dress themselves and frankly, they don’t CARE if their outfit is ‘weather appropriate’!! Haha! Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

  7. I suspect that you’re spot on about being stereotyped as a bumbling male who needs to be rescued by sensitive and competent females in the realm of parenting. I’m livid on your behalf. Here in Texas, 70 is cool enough that my daughter J would be in sweatpants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a jacket. I have put my foot down with her about sweatpants when its 100 degrees out, but I’m actually far more permissive about letting my kids dress themselves. Know what I did when my kids were 3? I had them sleep in their school clothes to avoid pre-daycare clothing drama every morning, And I was praised at daycare for my ingenuity (and they appreciated the girls no longer coming in with tear-soaked faces and generally contrary attitudes).

    Thanks for linking with #TwinklyTuesday.

    1. Love the idea of them sleeping in their school clothes. We all have our own ways of getting through it, don’t we?

  8. This made me laugh out loud. I am a mom and believe me there are days that I would rather poke myself in the eye with a toothpick then to argue with my kids about what they want to wear to school. I am sooooo NOT a morning person and therefore half the time I am not even awake yet to have such battles and my kids have been to school without their jackets…two different shoes on…pajama top still on from the night before…whatever. I have had notes put in my kid’s cubby reminding me that they do play outside everyday…I feel like writing back on the note that yeah they play outside at home to and usually have no shoes or socks on…no coat….and hell sometimes I have found them running around in their underwear and it’s 50 degrees out! What’s the problem? Ugh they are kids..

  9. A spray bottle and hairdryer actually sounds like a great way to clean someone’s butt, to me.
    That teacher would struggle here. Some parents send their kid to school with two layers of t-shirts and shorts because ‘it’s cold with the aircon’. A: Our school is old and crappy, the aircons are rarely cold. B: It’s at least 80 degrees out, all the time. But I hold my tongue. Cos it’s none of my business.


  10. Wow she was really rude! At least she is not her normal teacher as I get the feeling she probably doesn’t “get” kids or think beyond the first split second of what she sees.

    (First time visiting your blog, nice to meet you :))

  11. I can’t believe the teacher really. I dread things like this when my little one goes to school. I would have probably told them what had happened and tried to make a comedy moment out of it, but if it wasn’t well received I’m not sure what I would have done, especially to say it in front of your child swell I think is pretty poor. Well done for keeping your cool. #BrilliantBlogPosts

  12. Rather like Jennifer above, this post had me totally confused! That outfit looked fine for outdoot weather in the heat you describe. As a SAHD I occasionally face the “silly daddy” thing. I tend ot bite back, albeit very politely. #BrilliantBlogPosts

  13. Haha great post! I can’t belive the assistant teacher would say such a thing when its a toddler at hand! So glad she answered No to the question of if she was hot! #brilliantblogposts

  14. I’m inclined to agree that she really shouldn’t have said anything. If she was that concerned with your daughter overheating, perhaps she should have brought her some water, rather than make a comment to you.
    We’ve had 80 degree weather this week in MD. My kids woke up this morning with shorts and tshirts on. But it was raining outside and its in the 50s. even after i told them to change they still had on tshirts. Hopefully we don’t get the same lecture.

    1. There have been a few days this past week where it’s 15-20 degrees warmer by the time I pick her up than when we left

  15. We are in new England too, the weather has been too iffy to pick an appropriate all day outfit. My daughter insists on wearing shorts and comes home freezing, oh well!

  16. I don’t get it, I think she was well out of line. This outfit looks completely perfect to me. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. It’s good to stay a bit covered in the heat, and if the material is light??? Just don’t get it. Perfect outfit choice. She sounds rude. I hope it isn’t the case that she wouldn’t speak to your wife the same but it probably is, my husband can’t abide the difference on how dads are perceived, he would’ve cut her down to tears and I would’ve been embarrassed and apologised profusely without undermining him, because although I know he would’ve over reacted it’s something he’s passionate about. Thanks for sharing #sharewithme

  17. Obvious stereotypes aside because I might go on a massive rant!!! Grrr. Good you didn’t say anything. I’d at least hope that considering how young she is that it would be understandable. And don’t they replace the missing bit. We use to.

  18. Bless you. I know too well about the kids dressing themselves no matter what and that’s that. It’s not a battle we want to deal with every morning so shame on anyone for judging. They don’t know the circumstance. Too many judgey people in this world. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

  19. Thank you from a SAHD for not punching the windbag. She deserved it, and frankly it would’ve gotten the point across that she may have over-stepped the line a teeny-bit. But violence is never the answer. 🙂

    Like you, I never know how to respond to public shaming about my kids clothes or other choices. We give them a lot of leeway, and sometimes they look a bit…ummm…”out-of-season”. Yeah, we’ll leave it at that. It’s crazy that some know-it-all dared to say anything.

    Keep your chin up and realize that it made great reading. Glad I popped over from #effitfriday.

    Make it a great day (hopefully without any windbaggy advice)!

  20. I so enjoy all the dad blogs out there. I am a SAHM and my husband works a bajillion hours a week to feed, clothe, and house us. But when he isn’t working, he’s cooking, playing, butt-wiping, generally helping out and doing dad stuff. He may not be quite as in tune with their daily schedules as I am, but he’s incredibly competent to care for our kids and does so all the time. Thank you for standing up for good dads who do their jobs.

  21. 1. I don’t see what is wrong with her clothes. I usually don’t see what is wrong with an outfit.
    2. When frowned at I just call it ‘dadfashion’ and you can’t argue with fashion… 😉

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