Can I speak with your wife, Mr. Pearlman?

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Of all my pet peeves—and there are many—No. 1 goes like this:

“Can I speak with Mrs. Pearlman, please?”

“She’s not here. This is her husband. Can I help you?

“I’m calling from your daughter’s elementary school. We wanted to talk to her about [FILL IN THE BLANK WITH ANY SCHOLASTIC ISSUE]. Can you have her give us a call?”

“Well, I’m the father. You can talk … to me.”

•
Seriously, this happens all the time. All. The. Time. It’s 2009, and yet people—mostly women—still seem to think husbands have little, if anything, to do with their kids. I’ve had a woman ask if I need her help in changing my kid’s diaper. Throughout most of this school year, my daughter’s teacher began all notes home with, “Dear Mrs. Pearlman …”—as if I don’t exist (to her credit, when I brought up my objections, she changed her ways). People see my with my kids and say, “Wow, it’s so nice you’re making time for them.” Blah, blah, blah.
Drives me crazy. Drives other fathers I know crazy, too. A big reason I write books for a living is because it allows me to be there for for two children. I was raised in a house when my dad left in the morning and came back at night. He was a wonderful father—truly, an all-time legend—but it was understood that diapers, Little League games, etc were mostly Mom’s turf.
I didn’t want that. I’ve been a “class mother” for my daughter’s class; have accompanied her on field trips and attend 99.9 percent of her school concerts, plays, parties, etc. Mostly, it’s out of love and a desire to be involved. But a small part of it is the chip—wanting people to know that, when it comes to their children, dads can have the same instincts and desires as mothers.
Anyhow, I’m babbling. Give fathers respect—it ain’t easy out there.

7 thoughts on “Can I speak with your wife, Mr. Pearlman?”

  1. I understand where you’re coming from. As a teacher, I’ve noticed for so many of my kids, when there’s a father present, the child actually behaves better. There’s nothing like a great father there for the child, believe me.

  2. Jeff – thanks for writing this. I couldn’t agree more. I think all dads owe you a debt of thanks (especially those of us who are trying to move forward as involved single fathers).

  3. For the record, we wives get the same thing with electricians, plumbers, roofers, handymen, etc. You’d think if the population assumes we’re the ones home with the kids, we’d also be the ones spending the majority of our time in the house they’re fixing.

  4. The Today Show ran a segment this morning about dads who are home with the kids while the wives work… and it almost had this “Jeepers, can you believe this?” feel to it… come on, people, it’s 2009. I thought this wasn’t supposed to matter anymore?

  5. Whenever I take my son out to the park, or shopping, or especially a quick McD’s lunch on the weekend, I always wonder how many of the people seeing us are thinking that it must be my weekend….even with my wedding ring on…like I’m not really supposed to be spending time with him…

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