Last year, my daughter Pookie’s second grade class held a special event—Donuts With Dads. It’s an annual thing, so I had known about it for a while and I gotta say, I was more than a little curious about how it would go down.
Her real dad lives right here in town, so his attendance was a given. But what about me? I would have been okay if I’d been left out of the mix. Being a stepdad can be tough. Hell, so can being a stepdaughter. I figured that, on some level, this would be a difficult decision for her.
Thankfully it turned out Pookie wanted “both of her dads” to go.
I was obviously thrilled, though I also knew that a certain degree of awkwardness would likely ensue. But as Pookie led her father and me around the classroom on the “scavenger hunt,” I was pleasantly surprised by how skillfully she navigated the situation. It wasn’t awkward at all.
That is, until we went to the far wall to admire the cute drawings the class had made of their dads. My eyes quickly scanned the entire wall until I found the drawing she had made of her biological father, and, well, it’s safe to say that I got the short end of the crayon.
Forget, for a moment, that the left side of my face is bulging out as if experiencing the gravitational pull of a large planet. Forget the certain (though difficult-to-pinpoint) alien element to the depiction. And try to look past the zipper on my fleece (I’m reasonably sure that’s what she was drawing) that looks like Uncle Jed’s shotgun.
Take a gander at my head, more specifically my hair—and disregard the fact that I don’t have a crew cut and that my real hair is not six inches off my ears. Focus instead at the very, very top of my hair.
There are only a handful of explanations.
1. To enhance the aforementioned alien theme, Pookie has drawn a flying saucer which has landed on my head.
2. I’m sporting a flesh-toned yarmulke.
3. Pookie believes that I’m actually a volcano.
4. Pookie’s imagining that I’ve recently undergone a lobotomy.
5. The circle is actually a halo, a symbolic representation of the angelic role I’ve played in Pookie’s life.
6. Or, most likely, that skin-toned circle that is surrounded by hair is Pookie’s artistic rendering of my bald spot.
I suppose that’s how she sees me. And I’m okay with that, even if she did choose to showcase the shortcomings of my pate to each and every one of her classmates (plus their dads).
Especially because her insistence that I be a part of the festivities tells me something else about how she sees me—as her dad.