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Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day in Panama

Father's day week (when you have 4 kids it lasts all week) just passed, and it was a whirlwind, that's for sure. It started with my twin sons' school Father's Day celebration on Wednesday which ran from 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. My sons are still in preschool, and the school invited the dads to spend the time hanging out in the school with them.

Nico (left) and Matteo (right) with our craft projects

We started the celebration off with each kid having to state their dad's name to the rest of the class. Then we sang a few songs, did a few dances, and sat down together to work on the little stick puppets you see in the photo above. 

I come from a family where I bounced back and forth between divorced parents. For a part of that time, my brothers and I lived with my mom. She was a single mother taking care of three boys. So I know how hard that can be on a kid. This worried me a little bit when I showed up for the celebration early and saw moms dropping off their kids. I started thinking, "Man, this is going to suck for any kid whose dad doesn't show up."

That got me thinking, as much as I love spending time with my boys at their school, in some ways I think Father's Day might be a holiday better celebrated in the home. I can imagine how bad it must feel seeing other kids with their dads and not having mine around. I lived it for a long time, but I don't remember ever having a Father's Day celebration at school. 

That's how you do it, Dads!

When the celebration first started, only about 8 dads showed up, in a class of 14 kids. It concerned me at first, and at one point I actually pulled one of the kids aside, whose father hadn't shown up, and invited him to work with me on the craft project. Much to my surprise, his dad showed up a few minutes later. And the dads kept trickling in. By 11:00 only one kid in the class was dad-less. 

It was awesome! I don't know all the statistics, but I can almost guarantee that in most places where I lived in the States, there wouldn't have been that many dads in the class. Either they (the dads) would have been more worried about showing up for work, or they'd disappeared a long time ago, leaving the single mother to raise the kid. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that gringos don't father their children. Hell, I'm a gringo, and I think I'm a heck of a dad. I'm just saying that I was shocked to see that many men still in their child's life. That's horrible, right? 

Way to go Panama dads!!!

Dancing to Limbo by Daddy Yankee

My daughters had a similar celebration at their school on Friday. Both of my daughters, age 8 and age 10, practiced the dances they were going to perform every day for a couple of weeks. They were serious. My 8-year-old was going to dance to a Daddy Yankee reggaeton song with her classmates, and my 10-year-old was going to do a Panama folklore dance, dressed in traditional garb. 

My 10-year-old during her folklore dance

I had a lot of fun with this celebration. Each grade came out and either sang a song or did a dance. The school even invited a celebrity comedian. He seemed like he was funny. Everyone around me was laughing, but since I still don't speak Spanish, I didn't really get to enjoy the show. The school served all the dads food and even gave each father a gift, which you can see lined up on the table behind my daughter in the photo above. 

The dads showed up for this celebration too. 

I just explained to someone the other day that Father's Day in Panama is taken much more seriously than in the States. Maybe not everywhere and with every family in the States, but for the most part, it seemed to be a holiday that consisted of socks, ties, maybe some underwear, and that's about it.

Here, in Panama, it's taken very seriously. In our house, my mother-in-law baked two hams, we had potato salad with shredded chicken mixed in, an awesome salad with mango, almonds, feta cheese, etc, and coconut rice with guandu. It was amazing. The whole family came together. 

So again, when comparing life in the States to life here in Panama, I have to say that when it comes to the holidays, Panama usually comes out on top. 

Thanks again for reading,

Chris