ROSELLE PARK, NJ - Emmanuel Carrer sat at the child-size table, feeding his four-year-old daughter, Jayhla. “I wish everyday could be like today. I would do this all day.”
Carrer was a guest at the Donuts and Dad celebration at the Children’s Specialized Hospital Pediatric Medical Day Care located on Westfield Avenue in Roselle Park.
“We have so many actively involved dads that we saw a need for an event like this,” said head teacher Robin Halterman, who organized it. “We have had a number of activities, a butterfly release, a barbecue, and a gala. We are also going to have the Good Humor truck come by, and the families are invited. We have had a really good turn-out.”
The fathers who attended seem to relish their one-on-one time with their child. “Nothing like it,” said Jack Nogueira, sitting with daughter, McKenzie, 3 years old. “Taking time off from work and spending it with my daughter? Nothing like it.”
The fathers’ participation signals a shift from years past when only the moms attended this type of events.
“Times are changing,” said Nogueira. Added Artis Bobien, a former PTO president, “I refuse not to be in his life.”
All the dads enjoyed talking about their favorite subject, their children. Bobien described the drumming talents of his son, four- year-old Amare. “He drums on everything. He keeps perfect rhythm.”
Emani, three years old, loves to dance and is always pulling up her father, Emmanuel Jones, to dance with her. “She also has a fascination with water. She always wants to dive in or play with the sink. It takes two adults to hold her. We can’t let her go,” Jones laughed.
What does Nogueira do at home? “I stay in the pool,” referring to his daughter’s love of water.
Abraham Asabor sat cutting fruit and feeding it to two-year-old Abner. “This is what we do at home every day when he gets home from school,” said dad. “This guy is my life. I thank God for his life. I am continually thanking Him for what he has done for us,” said Asabor, referring to a time when Abner was hospitalized.
Dads weren’t the only parent in attendance. Jessica Rivera represented her family when her husband had to work. “I am happy to be here with my daughter,” she said of two-year-old Yahairo Romero.
The Day Care offers a comprehensive, outpatient program for children, ages three months to five years, with existing medical problems. It provides medical and intensive skilled nursing care and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The state requires that the children spend six hours daily in the facility.
“Children come here, and they can’t walk, or talk, or feed themselves,” said the day care’s director, Paris Gilchrist. “Some never will. When we have the chance to watch the children progress, it is a great experience.”
It is an experience that dad Anwar King enjoys watching, too. Sitting next to his two-year-old namesake, he said, “As long as he is happy, I’m good.”
Spoken like a true dad.