Creating a sense of community is obviously a big part of raising my daughter. We are blessed with great friends and family. However, as a single parent, and especially as a single father, you have to work at it a little more.
Today, one of her classmates had a birthday party. She spotted one of her new friends, and they played together for the next couple hours amongst the 20-30 kids.
The most memorable moment of the party was when she missed out on jumping into the middle of the pile when the piñata broke. She started to tear up feeling left out as the rest of the kids were diving and celebrating their finds. She was intimidated by all the commotion. I took her by the hand into the bee hive, but there was no candy left. Just then, two girls from her class came up to her and started to share candy without a second thought and without being coaxed by their parents. One girl was ready to give Isabella all of her candy! Wow. While my girl has a generous heart, sometimes it has to be coaxed into revealing itself.
At this party, best I could tell, I was the only single Dad there, if not the only single parent. This was the case at the last preschool, too. So, I’m usually the one reaching out introducing myself to everyone. If I don’t, married couples stick to themselves or the women talk in groups. If I didn’t reach out the way I do, we’d be isolated.
By getting in the mix, I’m letting others know that I care about who is a part of my daughter’s community, and I care about the small role we play in the lives of their children. I try to look for parents who think this way as, believe it or not, many parents don’t think this way. They focus pretty much only on their own child. Fortunately, this school, like the last one, seems to attract community-minded parents. But it’s bigger with less time together at drop-off and pick-up, so I have to work harder to create connections and playdate opportunities for my girl. It also means more driving. Today was a forty-minute drive to get to the party.
But it was worth it for us.
In fact, turns out the father of the birthday girl was someone I played in the first round of a tournament. We had an intriguing discussion about Incas and spiritual rituals in South America. I think we’ll be good friends.
So, new friendships forming for daughter and Daddy. Sometimes, it takes a bit of extra work, but anything worthwhile tends to be that way.