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Substitute Parent

Parents were invited to JD’s school for lunch today. I couldn’t make it because I had to be in the office, forty-minutes away at a freelance magazine job. This is primarily why JD attends a Pre-K 4 program with daycare hours—so I can work. I felt really bad and imagined JD sitting at the table alone while kids ate sandwiches with their moms—and some with their dads. JD was already down one parent.

I asked my Dad to have lunch with JD and he happily agreed. When I dropped JD off at school I reminded him Poppy was coming for lunch. He exclaimed, “Yes!” and revealed a giant toothy grin. Then I turned to his teacher and said: “I can’t make it, so my Dad is coming.” I didn’t wait for a response. I just smiled and left. I send my brother on Father’s Day and my Dad on Parent Lunch Day. As a single parent, I have no problem sending someone on Father’s Day, but I wondered if I was overstepping by sending my Dad to this lunch. Grandparents Day was in September and he attended.

My Dad called my cell after lunch and told me JD ate well and was very excited to see him. He also reported that he was not coughing—a relief since he was sick over the weekend. “There were only four parents at lunch,” he said. I was surprised because there are at least 15 kiddos in JD’s class, but I guess people were working like me and didn’t feel the need to send a substitute, or had no one to go in their place—it happens. I wonder why these programs exist during workdays. I have some mom friends who couldn’t attend and their kids were upset and didn’t eat lunch as a result. See, kids have feelings and sharing sandwiches with mom is important—if the kid next to you is. JD would have been sad.

I think I felt the need to send a substitute because I’m a single parent and I have this constant urge to fulfill both roles for my son and this constant goal to make sure he is always satisfied, happy, safe, healthy and never feeling without. It's not realistic, but I try.

Who fills in when you can't make it?

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