Saturday, April 28, 2007

Don't Take Your Child to Work Day

As it does every year, this Manufactured Occasion crept up on me—I didn’t realize it was here until suddenly the news programs were all talking about it, and so were the kids on the bleachers at softball. We’ve never “observed” it in our household, not when it was designed For Girls Only, and not now that it’s unisex.

Why not?

Well, first of all, until a couple of years ago we didn’t have a child old enough to really benefit by going to work with a parent and participating in what that parent does all day. Does a first-grader really get that much out of watching Mom attend meetings? Or is that first-grader busy with a computer game at a desk near Dad? I really think that children under middle-school age won’t benefit from spending the day in the workplace.

Beyond that, all the kids already know what I do all day, if they stop to pay attention. They’re here enough of the time. And summer vacation’s coming—so every day will be “Stay Home with Mom Day.”

All of our kids know that TheDad does work involving computers. He’s brought work home on evenings, weekends, and when he thought it might snow hard enough to close the office. They’ve seen him hunched over a computer keyboard typing code like crazy, then walking around thinking for a little while, then typing some more. Do they need to watch him do this for TEN HOURS STRAIGHT? TheDad has been known to skip lunch more often than not….

I asked TheDad if many people at his office had brought children. He named a couple, and I asked what the children did all day while their parents wrote code and attended meetings. “They got in the way,” he replied.

On the day before Take Your Child to Work Day, I sat on the bleachers at Middle Sister’s softball game, listening to all the players’ younger siblings discussing their plans for the next day. One girl (third grade or younger) was going to teach middle- and high-school foreign language with her mom. One first-grade boy was planning to play computer games on his dad’s work computer all day. Apparently he already knew that there wouldn’t be much to see there. Meanwhile, another child started whining that he was going to have to go to school. I said to him, “But someone has to go to school, or this girl (the teacher’s daughter) won’t get to teach Spanish to anyone! What would all the teachers’ kids do, if all the students went to work with their parents?”

WAIT A MINUTE! Maybe that’s the idea here! Maybe this whole wacky scheme is really a plot by the teachers’ union to get a day off at a slow time of year. It’s been 2 weeks since “Spring Break” (can’t call it Easter Vacation anymore, if they even schedule it for Easter Week anymore), and there are no holidays until Memorial Day (is it still OK to call it Memorial Day? I hope I haven’t missed another PC-renaming opportunity).

So, just how much productivity is lost because these employees and/or their administrative assistants are spending the day amusing first-graders with special lunches, computer games and free rein in the copy room? What’s being accomplished here?

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