Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Review: Take Your Child To Work Day

The night before Take Your Child To Work Day (TYCTWD), I was on the phone with my very good friend from high school. I told her that Q would be going to my office with me the next day for TYCTWD. My friend said, "Oh, fun! Are you going to take her around and introduce her to everybody?"

Which brings up Misconception #1 about TYCTWD: This is the first time the child has visited the parent's workplace.

For about 80% or more of us working parents (I'm willing to bet), our kids have already been to our office, probably more than once. In Q's case, my sweet little one has been here more times than I can count. She knows where every candy dish is located in the building. She knows who is glad to see her and who isn't. I've had this job for over six years. Do you really imagine that there has never been a situation which required me to both be at the office AND watch my kid, simultaneously? There are "Teacher Planning Days", for example, which means the teachers work on that day, and the parents work on that day, but the kids do not attend class. So, what to do with the kid? What if you don't have someone who sits around waiting for this one day out of every three months to watch your kid for you while you go to work? What if you actually have work to do? At the office? Yeah...you take your kid to the office, where they annoy you and others, and you try your best to get through the day without screaming at them in front of your boss. Fun for all.

Misconception #2 about TYCTWD: The working parent is available to focus on the child's learning opportunities throughout the day.

The thing is, sometimes, in spite of blogging, complaining, pretending to care or pretending that you don't care, etc., most of us really do have certain job duties that we have to perform, nearly every day. And they aren't always things we can schedule as we'd prefer. The day I brought Q in for TYCTWD, I had a conference call scheduled for 1pm. What was I gonna tell the other six people on the call? Let's do this some other time 'cause I have to figure out how to keep my 8-year-old fully engaged or at least busy with work-related activities throughout the day? We have financially-determined deadlines that aren't going to change. So Mommy was on the phone. The call started at 1pm. The gabby guy didn't stop talking, mostly off-point, until after 3:30. Where was Q? Nestled on the couch in the main suite area, reading her assigned book for the week. Waste of her time? No. Mommy get her work done? Yes. Everybody happy? Yes (sure, why not, I guess so). Good use of TYCTWD? No.

Misconception #3: TYCTWD is the same as anytime child goes to parent's work.

TYCTWD did not "exist" for Q last year. Although, again, Q had been to my work several times last year, it was never for the official TYCTWD reason. In fact, the actual day of TYCTWD, I wondered why so many other parents had brought their children to the office. I felt like, well, crap, what did I miss? Did I not read a flyer (yet again!)? Well, no. I had missed nothing. Because nothing was sent home for Q, because last year, Q was in 2nd grade. Q's school only permits 3rd-5th grades to participate in TYCTWD. So this year was her first year officially partaking of this activity. It was a big deal to her. Because it was an official school assignment for her, and she was proud to be involved in it.

Misconception #4: All that down time made the day a joke and a waste of child's time.

This one's for me. This is the lesson I learned. There WERE opportunities for Q to learn. I taught her some things about how computers connect to the network. I made her setup her own laptop. I took her into the computer systems room and explained what would happen if I just happened to unplug this wire right here. Mommy's phone would start ringing. Do you know why Mommy's phone would start ringing? Because without me, they can't use email or get on the internet, etc. At which point, I was proud that she already had experience with her own gmail email account and knew her way around a laptop, etc. It meant something to her. And by the end of the day, I even had her finish the final touches on that computer in the empty office from earlier in the day. And she wrote a note on the whiteboard, letting the person know she could now do this neat thing on her computer that she'd been asking for. Whoopee. Yay. Q learned. She was involved. She had a sense of accomplishment. She is not jaded yet.

And then we went home. She wrote about it in school the next day. I found it interesting that the teacher/school does not do a public sharing of what each kid experienced. They just wrote quietly about their experience, and turned in the paper. Interesting. Only the teacher gets the benefit of the cumulative knowledge of what each participating student did at the respective workplaces. Not sure that that is the most effective use of TYCTWD, either.


Mama Dawg said...

There are times when I wish they would allow us to do that here where I work, but we're not allowed to have visitors where I work, so it's a moot point.

gudnuff said...

Never? Wow. What does LOML do for things like Teacher Planning Day or the like? Can you bring her in during off-hours if you need to run in really quickly to grab your wallet that you accidentally left on your desk (like I had to late Friday night)? Does she have to wait outside for you? I guess I'm spoiled.

CatrinkaS said...

I was in the elevator at Citi, in NYC, when I worked there years ago. It was TOCTWD. My friend looked at the proud 7-yr-old boy in the elevator and said, urgently, "You do not want to do this, kid! I promise! HAVE DREAMS!" It was, at the time, really funny.

I have experienced all the bits you commented on...

Now that I work at home, and my husband works at our kids' school, the allure is completely gone... so none of them go anywhere for TOCTWD.

I think kids dig it. For what it's worth. Except for the jaded ones. Good job not having one of those - that's your efforts, and not accidental.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

I'm waiting for the "take your dog to work" day. It's much more sensible and humane.

Hyphen Mama said...

I have so much to learn about all this!! Maybe by the time we get around to TYCTWD, I'll be working. Or not.

Cee said...

wow, we never had an official TYCTWD! My dad just let me go to work with him once a summer when I was out of school. I loved it and looked forward to it every year! Q can use email at her age?!?! WOW!