Chloe attends an all Japanese pre-school. And while it’s incredible to watch her develop a second language and get to experience her Japanese culture, it often sends me out of my comfort zone. I could easily just do drop-off and pick-up and nothing more, but I’m determined to not be invisible and be the involved parent I want to be. I have been involved, but sometimes it’s not always in ways that I would expect, or prefer. I don’t know if it’s a Japanese custom, or just-at-this-school custom, but the school likes to have a group of parents from each class to “perform” for the kids at the holiday party. That’s how I found myself doing a synchronized dance about rice with a group of moms at the holiday party.

For the holiday party last year, I was involved with a group that did a bilingual puppet show about poop. Why would I even hesitate about joining that group? But this year the group performance was a rice dance. I had pledged my participation before I knew what I was doing. I knew dancing was on the table, but I was secretly holding out for something less theatrical to win. But I lost. I was dancer number 9 out of 14. Each of us wearing Santa hats and sparkly garland bracelets, too. The attire had nothing to do with the song, but it was for the spirit of the holiday party.

I’m used to being the only guy most often. And at this school the language barrier can be an added obstacle to connect and communicate with other people. I accept the challenges as a means to personal growth and to push forward. But throw in dancing and I find myself asking, why do I do this to myself?

The dance isn’t a requirement. It’s nothing I have to do. I think it’s important though. I could say, “sorry folks, count me out.” But that doesn’t help. I think it’s important for the kids to see a dad participate. That volunteering at school isn’t just a mom thing. Also, the bar is set pretty low for dad’s when it comes to this. I shouldn’t get a non-participant pass just because it’s not a “dad thing.”

Us dads need to be involved when we can. We need to allow ourselves to show vulnerability and be silly in front of our kids. Did I feel like a complete idiot up there dancing in front of everyone? You bet I did. But my daughter was excited that I was there and she giggled and smiled when I practiced at home. She even helped me out.

As awkward and uncomfortable as I felt, everyone acknowledged and respected my efforts. And maybe, just maybe, I even had a little bit of fun, too.

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