There’s a Take Your Child to Work Day that has nothing to do with the babysitter not showing up

According to the posters on the walls at work, April 27 is Take Your Child to Work Day. I guess it’s nice there’s an official day for this, but I celebrate my own Take Your Child/Children to Work Days. This is what it’s called when both parents need to be at work and there is no babysitter to be had. Fortunately, I work in a child-safe environment and have supervisors who don’t care how many members of my family it takes to do my job so long as it gets done.

Per the fliers, our official Take Your Child to Work Day festivities are intended for children aged eight and up. This year I finally have a child who is old enough to celebrate the official holiday. Even so, I think we will be celebrating Leave Your Kid in School Day on April 27.

He’s much better off in school. He might learn something useful there and he will be allowed to hold on to a childlike optimism for the future.

Once upon a time, every day was Take Your Child to Work Day. The excitement of working without safety regulations was too much for the children, so they limited it to one day a year.

I infer from the guidelines that the organizers of Take Your Child to Work Day have studied the situation carefully and determined age eight is the time when children can really begin to understand the nature of grown-up work. This is a good piece of science to know; it tells me I should never bring any of my children who have reached this threshold to work with me again.

My under-eight children are still okay to bring, unofficially, of course, because they don’t have the capacity to understand just how unexciting my work is. They still believe whatever Daddy does on his keyboard in his little cubicle sets events in motion to save the world. Small children are delusional like that. It’s cute.

My eight-year-old son is now at the point where he can detect the pedestrian nature of paperwork and feel the repetitiveness of financial reports. Many jobs have a certain amount of repetitiveness in them and I’m not saying mine is worse than any other. I’m just not sure it’s the best end result to show a 3rd grader if you want to inspire him to reach for the stars in school.

I’ve tried to think of how I could make my job seem exciting to a kid. So far, the most enticing fact I could come up with is it brings home the money that buys the Cool Ranch Doritos. I’m still working on it.

The fruit of my toil.

All around my building are buildings filled with scientists. I’m holding out hope somebody will come up with Send Your Child to Work with a Nearby Scientist Day. Then the boy could maybe see how it feels to be a scientist discovering new isotopes. The only thing I can think of that might be more inspiring to him is knowing how it feels to be a scientist who discovers new video games.

Sit at this desk and look busy so Daddy can retire

Occasionally, I take my boys to work with me for an hour or two. I work at a relatively family-friendly environment where I don’t often get the stink eye for trailing two little ducklings behind me now and then.

This doesn’t mean it’s always a comfortable experience, keeping the lids on two unpredictable tornado sirens in a professional manner.

If I could take them individually, it wouldn’t be so stressful. Lacking toddler interference, I could teach the big boy to do my job. Of course, he is too young and uneducated to do it all, but I could start him on the basics. Then, after he has completed his kindergarten degree and is fully qualified for my work, he’d hit the ground running when he takes over for me in earnest. This, by the way, is my retirement plan. Some family member needs to be sitting at that desk and bringing home a paycheck until the day I die. It might as well be him.

Junior paper shuffler

Sometimes I make him shuffle papers at home just to hone the most important skill he’ll need to assume my job duties.

Buster wouldn’t be bad on his own either. There’s a 30% chance he’d fall asleep. Otherwise, he’d be content to pound away on my keyboard and write my reports in that monkey language he types. This is a different, but equally readable, monkey language than the one my typing produces, so the reports would be similarly useful to my superiors. He is second in line for my throne in our succession plan.

Together, they create a more difficult visit to pull off inconspicuously. Childhood is a competition to push buttons. We have lots of buttons at work. Be it the elevator, automatic doors, or the water cooler, we have lots of buttons to race toward – screaming. These buttons also leave ample opportunities for the second-place finisher to whine and cry, which puts me in an awkward place because that’s usually my role at work.

Even when we are packed within the half-walls of my office, there are too many buttons. I have an adding machine on my desk. Every time the boys visit, they change the settings so that my decimal places are off for weeks. I can usually get it fixed by the day before their next visit. The Accounting Department still gets the general gist of what I mean.

the final edit

We might write nonsense, but it is very carefully edited nonsense.

Keys fascinate children also. There are filing cabinets outside my office. In them I keep reams of paperwork that no one could find useful or interesting. I keep this ocean of paper locked up tight because that allows me to act like a guy who’s authorized to access company secrets. Co-workers know better, but the boys are impressed. They want to know secrets too; after their last visit, I’m not sure where the keys are. Now I have to keep up a false front about being privy to whatever the hell those papers say.

Maybe I should spare my co-workers all the whining and crying by asking to work from home. But I’m unsure if they’d still let me send the kids in.