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Bring your kids to work day | faulty vision

Thursday evening

So, today was bring your kids to work day….

(Excuse me. I suddenly feel a need for a drink.)


Friday morning

So, yesterday was bring your kids to work day.

(Shit. Hold on. I want another drink.)


Friday afternoon

I foget what I wanting talked to.

Oh, so sad!


Monday

So, last Thursday was Bring Your Kid to Work Day. (Coincidentally, the Dow Jones plummeted the following week. Take that as you will.)

Hobbes loves coming to my office, for reasons that I can’t understand very well. About all you can say for the place is that there isn’t any blood on the actual walls, and people are not regularly flogged in public1, but other than that — it’s a cubicle farm, and I live in a cubicle. I’m Dilbert, with more hair. Despite that fact, Hobbes regularly asks if he can come to work again with me, on the off chance I might have hit my head and forgotten the last time he came with me. Every so often, mostly on holidays where his daycare is closed, he lucks out.

For the first time since I’ve been there, my company went all out on a half-day event for the kids of employees. It was well-organized and run by young, enthusiastic people with — and this is key — no kids of their own. Volunteers at the company offered up hitherto unrecognized talents. There were scheduled activities, a tour of the office, a pizza lunch, balloon animals, face painting, and some art activities. They had company ID badges made up for the kids that had their pictures and names for them.2

Hobbes waiting for a balloon animal.

There was also sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. Chocolates, lollipops, gummy treats, juice boxes, fruit.

See above re: young, enthusiastic people with no kids of their own.

I wasn’t able to stick around for a good hour of the event. I had a meeting at the same time, scheduled during a fit of amnesia. “Can I leave him with you guys?” I asked the young, childless woman from HR.

Perennial optimist that she is, she looked delighted at the prospect. “Sure! We’ll have fun, won’t we, Hobbes?”

But Hobbes had already dashed off to explore something else. I looked after him. “Maybe if I give you my cell phone number,” I suggested. “That way you can ring me if he causes you trouble and you feel yourself on the verge of hurling him out a window.”

I was untroubled by phone calls during the meeting, which puzzled me. When I returned an hour later to the main conference room, site of the jamboree, everything was quiet and still.

“Have they killed all the kids?” I inquired of the sole person remaining, a guy from IT.

“They’re on a building tour,” he said. “They should be back any minute now.”

The building isn’t that big. It isn’t that interesting. One and a half floors, blanketed with cubicles. And yet, it was another 45 minutes before they came back downstairs.

Hobbes came dashing into the room through the crowd of children, full of beans, and unleashed a barrage of disjointed information at me before disappearing again. One of the young, childless women from Marketing approached me. Her face was drawn and haggard. “Is he yours?” she asked.

“Yup. Why? What did he break?”

“Nothing.” She offered me a wan smile, the shell-shocked, autonomic response you might get from the victim of a horrific crime. “He’s really high energy, isn’t he?”

“You could say that,” I said. Hobbes was pinging around the room, chattering indiscriminately at people at the top of his lungs. When I glanced over at his last known location, I discovered him wedged half-in, half-out of a spinning office chair, in imminent danger of breaking off one of his legs.

One of the other young, childless women from Marketing hurried past. “She was taking care of him,” she reported, indicating the first girl. “We had three people for all the rest of the kids,” — a little over 20, I estimated, ranging in age from 9 months to 12 years — “but we had to dedicate one person for Hobbes. We called him the Deflector.”

This baffled me. “He wasn’t answering questions?”

“No, because he kept deflecting–” She demonstrated with a hand, angling it off-line. “Everybody else would go this way, and he’d always go some other direction–”

“Oh.” Yes. Well. “He does that,” I said. He really does. We’ve given up. Nowadays, our standard method of leading him somewhere is to plant one hand firmly on his head and keep it there, steering him by turning his skull in the direction we want him to go.

This is only moderately successful. He apparently does not feel that his head needs to accompany him on all outings.

The girl wilted. “He’s cute?” she said, without much conviction.

At one point during the tour, someone apparently asked him what he did. “I boss my mommy and daddy around,” he’d announced.3

An astonishing number of people came up to me over the next few days to tell me about this. They seemed to think it was funny. “Your kid is so bright,” they said.

“Ah,” I said. “Hah. Er.”

A rare moment of peace and quiet. Thats a lollipop in his mouth, not a cigarette this time.

Later on in the day, one of our lawyers called me over to her cube. “I’m sorry about the cupcakes,” she said.

Cupcakes? What? “What cupcakes?” I said. Hobbes was bobbing up and down beside me, but apparently feeling, six words into the conversation, that there was nothing of importance about to be discussed, he started wandering in and out of people’s offices.

“I brought cupcakes,” said the lawyer. “See, this is why I’m not allowed to have children.” She appeared to be congratulating herself on this.

I don’t know what committee decided this, but they were obviously asleep on the job when The Guy and I had one.

***

The problem with the Bring Your Kids to Work Day thing is that all the activities ended after lunch, which meant that around 1 pm I ended up with a sugared-up, hyperactive, deranged escapee from the Toddler Ward parked (and I use that word very loosely) at my desk.

And so did a lot of other parents.

“Do you want to take them to the park?” a coworker asked, while our kids careened off the walls like demented pinballs.

I assume this was a rhetorical question.

Three kids set off to the park, arguing about their respective ages and what that meant. My son, at 3, was the youngest. Then there was a 4 year old and a 5 year old, which for some reason meant that Hobbes was (according to him, anyway) in “the middle.” He has an combatively nonchalant attitude towards mathematical progression. Part of the way there, one of the parents turned back to go to a meeting, leaving his son with us.

Right before we’d left, I’d not-very-pointedly asked him about whether he’d brought a change of clothing for his son. Turns out that this was a good idea.

I don’t know why the inevitable outcome of this outing wasn’t obvious to me. Fountain. Little boys. Duh.

This is why I shouldn't be allowed to babysit.

"It's okay. He's had his polio vaccine."

This is why, near the end of the day, I found myself in the building garage with a stark-naked little boy dancing in the back of my car — just as one of the senior directors in engineering came strolling out. “Ah,” I said, while Hobbes hugged my head and attempted to rub his willy on my shirt.4 “Er. Hi.”

He (the director) smiled weakly at me and quickly got into his car.

...wet.

To be fair, this could probably only improve my reputation at work.


Show 4 footnotes

  1. any more
  2. Strangely, these ID badges didn’t actually work on any of our security doors, which is how I ended up locked in the stairwell partway through the day. If I have a real criticism, it’s that they didn’t activate the kids’ badges. Because what could possibly have gone wrong?
  3. Which is true. In fact, we have told him this, though the way we phrased it was, “Hobbes, do not boss your mommy and daddy around.” I am heartened by the improvement in his listening skills, though it seems we still need to work on comprehension.
  4. My son finds this indescribably funny. What is it with boys and dogs? You know that saying, “Why do dogs lick their balls? Because they can.” Right? Well, now you do.
 

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