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Donuts fill a hole for dads

Pleasant Valley School knows the way to a dad’s heart is through his mouth with a donut.

“Donuts For Dads,” read the invitation on my bathroom sink. I brush my teeth every chance I get, and my kids know how to get their dad’s attention. It would mark the Ackerman Family’s Third Annual Donuts For Dads gala, and they were very much looking forward to it.

And, I’ve got to tell you … I happen to enjoy the special day. I don’t get to drive my kids to school because I like to get to work early so I can read the nasty e-mails and listen to the nasty phone messages before the doors open. It gets me in the right frame of mind. By 9 a.m., I generally answer the phone with a, “So-you-want-a-piece-of-me-too?” greeting and the caller turns out to be my sister inviting me to a wedding or some nice woman wondering if I’d like to attend a spaghetti feed.



I know … what kind of dad puts his job before his kids? Most dads, that’s who. Most dads I know are not comfortable around schools. We want our children to get a good education and remind them constantly to do their homework and “get good grades.” And at the supper table, I force them to tell me something interesting that happened at school that day and if they don’t, I make them eat more peas and liver.

My son, Luke, makes stuff up.




“How was your day, Luke?” I ask.

“It was OK … but this monkey jumped down my shirt when I was on the playground and then a giant wave crashed over the top of my classroom.”

“How about you, Lacey?” I continue. “How was your day?”

Lacey enjoys a good conversation. She didn’t start talking until she was 3 and has been on a roll ever since.

A half an hour later and she’s still going … “So then Mary says … and then Nancy looks at me like she’s all … and then I’m all … and then she’s all … and then we’re all …”

My eyes glaze over and I make a mental note to add a 10-minute gag order to the evening routine.

It’s a well-known fact that, when they were kids, moms enjoyed school much more than dads. Probably because they learned how to chew with their mouths shut far sooner than their counterparts. Boys don’t really catch up with girls, in terms of maturity, brains, common sense, threshold for pain and ability to effectively communicate, until they are 82 or 85, somewhere around there. When I was in fourth grade, I accidentally sucked the ink out of five pens before I figured it out. None of my six sisters ever sucked ink.

Not one.

So when they get older, moms just feel more comfortable being at school and have much more to say when they get there.

Donuts For Dads is not a place to go for good conversation. We pulled into the parking lot and I grabbed Luke and Lacey by the hands and walked them to the gym.

Actually, they walked me to the gym because I couldn’t remember where it was. And neither did most of the other dads being led along by their children. One dad had on sunglasses and appeared to be on the verge of throwing up. I suspect he either worked nights or had a terrible hangover. But he was a trooper as he marched toward the boxes of glazed donuts.

“Howzitgoing?” he asked.

“Pretty good,” I replied. “Howzitgoing with you?”

“Pretty good,” he said. “Good donuts, eh?”

That conversation was repeated numerous times during the half-hour Donut With Dads excursion. Every once in awhile I could hear someone compliment the Sacramento Kings, but not too many dads were interested in discussing the latest in elementary education.

Most dads just don’t have a whole hell of a lot to say on most days and even less to say before 8 in the morning, which is why they give dads donuts. One dad walked up and wanted to know what I thought about Lacey’s new math book. I quickly stuffed an entire donut into my mouth and pointed at it, mumbling and nodding.

I mean, it’s not like I’m going to say, “No thanks. I’m watching my weight.”

I’ll eat a donut at the drop of a hat. Not just to get out of discussing math. We have a snack machine at work and once in awhile I’ll buy those mini-donuts in a bag. The ones most medical experts agree will kill you in 24 hours. Sometimes I just stick maybe three or four into my mouth at the same time, washing them down with some cold coffee at my desk. Right when the phone rings.

I know a guy who owns an appliance store in town and is quite busy. He’s building a new store and has plans to open another business this year. At lunch one day, he told me he drives his kids to school each day and picks them up every afternoon.

“It’s the best part of my day,” he said. “I can’t imagine not being there when they get out of school.”

That’s a dad with his priorities in order.

It didn’t matter to the kids how the dads felt about the donuts or coffee.

They were just happy to have the dads at school. And that’s the whole point to this Donuts With Dads thing. It’s good to change your routine.

Don’t wait for a donut to take your kids to school. Just do it because it’s the right thing to do. Do it because these kids don’t stay kids long and one day you’ll be looking at an empty lunch bucket, wondering how those kids grew up so fast.

Thanks to the good folks at Pleasant Valley School for reminding me that life is just a donut away.

ooo

Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299, jeffa@theunion.com, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.


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