Some moments in life cause a bond between parents and children that you want to cherish forever — stuff like teaching them to ride a bike, picking them up after they continuously fall off the same bike, showing neutralizing self-defense tactics in case of urban riots and, of course, Take Your Child to Work Day.
I can’t remember if I ever participated in Take Your Child to Work Day as a kid. I’m pretty sure I have because I remember standing in front of my third-grade class saying, and I quote, “I was born in the wagon of a traveling show. My mama used to dance for the money they’d throw. Papa would do whatever he could…”
Then I looked up the history of the ritual and learned it was created for girls while I was in high school, so I have to chalk up that memory as revisionist history due to a childhood psychotic disorder.
The original Take Our Daughters to Work Day was started in the early ‘90s to help build the self-esteem of young girls and was then officially expanded for boys in 2003 as a way for children to get a taste of the working world.
That sounds good on paper, but I imagine it would be a hard sale if a teacher bluntly proposed it to their classroom.
“Okay, kids, you know that place called ‘work’ where your parents go every day, and it puts them in a horrible mood when they come home and causes them to drink sloe gin straight from the bottle? Well, now you get to go with them! Why are you all crying?”
Actually, many places must have anticipated that reaction so they made special exceptions for the kids on that fourth Thursday every April to make the jobs a little more kid friendly.
For example, a theater manager can allow kids to hold a spitting-for-distance contest from a balcony, a fire department can let the little tykes use the Jaws of Life to pry open occupied porta-potties or senators can have their children draft legislation proclaiming Mike is the most awesomest dude in the universe and Jesse is a fart burper, which came up four votes shy of passing in the US Senate in 2011.
This year marks the second time I decided to take my 9-year-old stepdaughter, Emma, to my work as she had the choice between me as a newspaper reporter or her mother as a certified medical assistant.
Naturally, she picked me because my job is completely awesome…and her mother won’t allow her to hang out in a doctor’s office all day where she’s 100,000 times likely to get sick versus a newspaper where she’s only 50,000 times likely to get sick.
Emma started out like a champion, preparing and over-preparing the night before by packing items like her phone, headphones, snacks, a lunch, a water bottle, apple juice and a can a pepper spray because I told her I was going to flip out if I had to do another weather story.
Anyway, while at the paper, Emma was allowed to draw on dry boards in the editor’s office, she took a trip to the courthouse where everyone asked if she was going to put me in jail (the answer was yes) and then coloring on everything she can find while rocking out on her headphones and keeping the pepper spray in reach.
Then, after that first hour was over, she dropped the “Daddy, I’m bored, and I don’t want you to work anymore” bomb.
That’s when you have to sit your kid down, firmly place your hands on their shoulders, look them in the eye, take a deep breath and say, “That’s not how it works in the real world. Welcome to hell.”
It was also a bonding moment between us as my wife came home later that day and started on me about things around the house that needed done like laundry, dishes in the sink, the living room on fire because of a misplaced lit cigar, etc. Then Emma came to my defense and said, “Will you get off of his back!? Daddy’s out busting his hump writing weather stories while you’re in your cozy little office all day, taking care of sick people. Now keep your trap shut and get him a beer.”
If that doesn’t teach you to truly cherish those bonding moments, I don’t know what will.
According to Hofmann is written by staff reporter Mark Hofmann of Rostraver Township. His book, “Stupid Brain,” is available on Amazon.com.