Tonight was dads’ night at M.’s preschool. There’s nothing quite like spending an hour with a bunch of wound-up three and four year olds.

As with their Christmas program, M. had been letting details of what was going to happen tonight slip for a couple weeks. They’ve been diligently practicing songs and on occasion she would bust into one in front of me. So I kind of knew what was coming.

Anyway, things went down like this: We arrived, M. threw her coat on the ground and started hopping around with some of her friends. Her teacher came over and told me lots of good things about M. and her behavior in class. I asked her if she was sure she was talking about my three-year-old. (I tease!) As each other kid and dad came into class, M. would shout at me, “That’s (kid) and his/her daddy!” then go back to hopping, now and then adding two fingers to her head and saying, “Bunny ears!”

The teachers flipped the lights off, which is apparently how they get the kids’ attention, and asked that they pick up any toys that had been removed from their bins. Then we got to sit down and make leprechauns for St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t think I’ve used paste in 31 years. It comes in colors now, did you know that? After some cool work with the paste, construction paper, and orange fusili pasta (for the beard), it was story time. We all gathered around the teacher and heard a story about loving your dad (Timely!). Then, it was time for a special snack, which was sugar cookies with a cup of frosting and green sprinkles on the side. M. gave me a tiny little dab of icing and proceeded to eat the rest of it, straight rather than on the cookie, herself. Kid gets down to business.

Finally, it was performance time. The kids had three songs to perform for us. One was some kind of St. Patrick’s day song I couldn’t quite follow. The girls all had little tambourines and the boys got to wear green hats while they walked around in a circle. After that came a song about dancing with your daddy. And finally, a song about fingers and toes. It was a pretty good performance, complete with kids who clearly didn’t know/remember any of the words, kids who mouthed the words but didn’t actually sing, and kids who were over-singing every note. Oh, and M. decided to pull her dress up so everyone could see her tights, the underwear beneath it, and her belly button. Good times.

It was interesting to see M. interact with the other kids. She’s the youngest in her class and that is obvious just from seeing everyone line up together. A couple of the kids are a lot taller than her, looking more like five year olds, which suddenly makes her look very young to me. All the dads were obviously a distraction tonight, but I always think it would be fun to watch them in secret, to see how she treats others and is treated by others. She told us awhile back that one girl wasn’t her friend anymore because the girl kept bossing M. around and calling her a baby. That made S. sad. It made me a little sad, but it also made me start talking like a dad, “Toughen up, kid, that’s life.”

Dads are funny, too. A few knew each other, probably because they’re good Catholics (Unlike my wife!) and go to Mass each week. The rest of us just kind of stood around and watched the kids. When we sat down to do our crafts and eat our snacks, the three dads around our table all introduced ourselves and shared a little about our kids, but that was it. I imagine on Moms’ Night there is a lot more socializing.