Thinking Out Loud

all of my ideas are works in progress

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They "Joy" of Joy School

Because of our geographic and economic circumstances, it's difficult for our kids to get a lot of mid-week social interaction with other kids their age. It's not stunting their development, but it would be nice to have a playdate or something. So when a group of stay-at-home moms from a different congregation that shares our church building made overtures to Stephanie about running a Joy School (for the uninitiated, a sort of low-key home-school preschool where parents take turns teaching so the other parents get a break of a few hours), we were interested in participating.

The thing is, Stephanie works and I'm a stay-at-home dad. A few weeks ago, I brought Kaylee to the 'intro' class and everything seemed to go fine.

Then the other moms had a secret meeting wherein they decided that a father taking a preschooler to the bathroom was the scariest thing ever, and that I would need to be chaperoned in my own home. They sent the alpha hen to convey this decision to me, and I said, yeah, I understand, I wouldn't want anyone to feel uncomfortable. But then as the real start date approached, I realized that, I'm actually not okay with being treated like a sex offender when I'm not, in fact, a sex offender.

So I got back with alpha hen and said, no, you can either treat me equally with everyone else, or you can kick me out. So they had another round of meetings behind my back, because heaven forbid I should be allowed to present my point of view, or hear anyone else's point of view first hand, or in general be treated like a grown-up.

I tried to find out what the heck was going on. I kept getting told, "It's because they don't know you well," which is BS because Stephanie is as much a stranger to them as I am and I'm absolutely sure she wouldn't have been subjected to the same scrutiny. Not that any of them made any effort at all to get to know me before passing judgement.

So, frustrated with both being treated like a second-class parent and being kept in the dark, I dropped an explanation of my position in the group message on Facebook. I was expressive, but I wasn't burning any bridges. I even suggested that, hey, everyone could use a co-teacher for general preschooler-wrangling. But if something is mandatory for me and optional for everyone else, I'm out.

I was told that's just the world we live in and that we should all just accept double standards.

Alpha hen called me up tonight in a last ditch attempt to manipulate me into accepting my parole.

"You want Kaylee to be able to participate, don't you?"

It won't cost much, just your sense of justice.

"I see from your Facebook that you like to cook. What if you just brought snacks?"

Would that be treating me as an equal with the other parents?

"How about if you let Kaylee come and you don't have to teach at all?"

That addresses my concern how?

"Well, if you want to be a part of the group, you have to compromise something."

"You know, last year they considered inviting your family but decided not to. I'm the only one that's reaching out to you."

"That's just how things are in our culture."

And I ran out of different ways to say, 'no, thank you, I'd like to be treated as an equal' and being deflected with reasons why I should accept the terms and be grateful that they would even stoop to include me, so I accused her of being more concerned with what her friends think than what is right, and she countered that the real wrong here is that I was sarcastic in the group chat and that I was being stubborn.

And that's how I got disinvited from Joy School.

Now there's a flurry of chatter on Facebook, alternately trying to smooth things over and accusing Stephanie and I of being oversensitive.

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I sat down to write this about six hours ago but didn't quite know what to say.

I'm a divorced dad, split up more than 4 1/2 years ago. I have my daughters a third of the time. I know many of their friends' parents fairly well.

Honestly, I've never offered a playdate. I would offer an overnight, but only if I had a chaperone. I don't want other parents to judge whether or not they trust me. I don't want to put them into that position.

I don't know if I would feel different about a woman or not.

I don't know very many men at all that I would trust taking my daughters to the bathroom, but I do know a couple. In a school environment, there are certain people - men and women - who set off my spidey sense. And there were people like this I knew when I was growing up as well.

Some of this is right and some of it is wrong.

If the moms had known you for a long, long time then they wouldn't be treating you this way, assuming you didn't set off their spidey sense. But for now, they are.

Keep in mind that it's their job to protect their kids. And women have more experience being harassed by men than they have experience being harassed by women, so they start out from a point of view of distrust with men versus trust with women. And sadly they invited Stephanie at first, not you. Then they invited Kaylee (?) to continue. For her.

It's about Kaylee, right?

Is this battle worth it?

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