On Being the Only Dad at Story Time

When I was a baby, or so I’ve been told as I clearly cannot recall personally, I didn’t get out all that much. The overwhelming majority of my human interaction would have been with my immediate family. It wouldn’t have been until I was enrolled in preschool that I had any sort of meaningful interaction with other kids who were not my kin. Maybe certain programs didn’t really exist at the time. Maybe my parents didn’t know about them.

Things are going to be different for my little girl. For starters, we’ve been taking her to baby story time at the local public library. This gives her a chance, if nothing else, to be exposed to other babies her age. We read stories and sing Raffi songs. It’s a great little program and it’s completely free to attend. Looking around the room each week, though, the demographic mix became quickly apparent.

I’m the only dad here.

Attendance at story time varies, of course, and we could expect to see at least a dozen or so babies there with their parents, guardians, or caretakers. While the number of little boys would be roughly equivalent to the number of little girls, the same cannot be said about the adults in the room. They’re practically all moms, presumably many of whom are on maternity leave.

As much as we like to think that gender equality is improving, traditional gender roles are still painfully obvious. With story time taking place in the middle of a weekday, the assumption is that most of the dads are at work. And that’s also assuming that we’re looking at the traditional nuclear family, which may not necessarily be the case. To further exacerbate the issue, some guys might feel like they’ll be viewed as less of a man if they participate in these traditionally “motherly” activities of singing nursery rhymes, winding bobbins and rowing boats.

In the several weeks that we’ve been attending baby story time, I’ve encountered maybe only one or two other dads (with the noted exception of last week where there were three other dads) and one grandpa. This said, I’m willing to venture a guess that many of the dads would like to come too if they did not work a traditional 9-to-5 kind of job. Perhaps that is why the “Man on the Moon” program for male caregivers and their babies is scheduled for Sunday afternoons.

I am incredibly thankful that I have the time freedom to be as involved as I am in my daughter’s upbringing and I would like for this to continue for as long as possible. And if it means I’m the only dad at her first swimming lessons (I can’t swim either), the only dad at her first gymnastics class, and the only dad to help supervise her first kindergarten field trip, then so be it.

But I hope I’m not. Parenting is a (co-ed) team sport.