More accurately, I’m part of D.O.G.S, or Dads Of Great Students. My daughter’s school has this program for Dads to come in and spend the day, helping out in classrooms, the lunchroom, and the playground. The idea is to provide a way for more children to see adult men in positive situations and for dads to be more aware of what the daily school routine is.
You volunteer for a whole day as a Watchdog Dad, wearing your sticker proudly and trying to remember as many names as you can. It is a bit overwhelming at times, especially for natural introverts like me. But by the end of the first hour I had memorized the names of most of my daughter’s classmates. Let me see how I do four days later:
Brayden, Luke, Ben, Omari, James, Nathan, Harper, Anna, McKenzie, Janize, Kara, Toni, Owen, Zoe, Evie. Hmmm, I am missing a few, but not bad!
The kids were cute as they came up to me and asked me questions. The most common was “Are you Evie’s dad?” I got used to that one. But a reflection of today’s world came up in the question that sometimes followed, “Are you married to Evie’s mom?” I was not prepared for that one.
Being in the classroom reminded me of other times I have visited Kindergarten and first grade classrooms. I come out of it amazed at how a teacher can deal with the diversity of behavior, learning styles, and progress, convinced that the teachers must be born with a gift for it. It has to be one of the hardest jobs to do well.
PE and recess was interesting, as I was exposed to the the Lord of the Flies mentality in kickball, soccer, and monkey bar power struggles. Either it is more chaotic than I remember or my memory is failing me. Either way is depressing!
The school is bursting at the seams, so they have three lunch periods to fit all the kids in the small cafeteria. It was neat seeing all the other kids that I know. They all seem genuinely happy to see a parent that knows them and gives them a bit of special attention. High fives with adults seem to have a high value in elementary school.
The highlight of my day came during the last lunch period, when I actually got to eat lunch. I sat at the “special” table, and was joined by two students on each side. The girl to my left was blind and shy, so when I introduced myself, she was reluctant to even give me her name. No problem, I can make this fun! So I asked her for the first letter in her name and started guessing, some serious names, some silly names. The silly names got her smiling and I knew I would have a new friend soon. In the end, I found out her name was Dani, and we had some good laughs until she was so comfortable with me that she asked me to move. It seems I had sat down where her friend, the boy on my right, always sits. So just when I thought I was important, I was quickly put in my interloper place.
However, at the end of the day recess I came across her again, wandering by herself in a sea of matched up friends. I introduced myself as her new friend from lunch, and I saw her face light up with a big smile. We proceeded to wander around the playground, looking for loose dirt or mud for a reason that she never revealed. In the end, we had discovered a patch of clover and after I explained about four-leaf clovers, we spent the rest of the time “looking” for four leaf clovers. It was a delightful time and seemingly much more rewarding than tossing the football to a bunch of boys that didn’t want to take turns.
Perhaps the best feeling of the day came from the multitude of kids that saw me at the end of the day and told me they saw me at lunch. I learned later that most dads leave after lunch, so the connections seemed even more important, though I am not sure why.
I look forward to doing it again and feel blessed to have a school with this type of program and a job that lets me take a day off to spend at my child’s school. Being a dog is great gig!