The first Take Our Daughters to Work Day was held in April 1993, and I remember wondering at the time (I was 12) exactly why this day needed to exist. As the quiet, bookish only child of a single mom, it was always easier for her to bring me to her office whenever she needed to work on the weekends or after-hours rather than hire a babysitter – and I just sat in an empty conference room and read.
My mom explained to me, though, that it was to expose young girls to the working world, to make them see that there were numerous career options to which they could aspire. Again, though, this seemed silly to me – of course I knew that I didn’t have to stay home and cook and have babies if I didn’t want to. This was the ’90s after all. My mom showed me, by example, how to have a career, and I didn’t need a special day set aside to observe her. I don’t recall if I went to the inaugural Take Our Daughters to Work Day, but if I did, it certainly didn’t stand out in my mind as anything groundbreaking.
Now that I am a working mom, I have taken my kids to work a few times here and there, but when my boss sent out an email urging us all to participate in Take Our Children to Work Day (it was expanded in 2003 to officially include boys, too) this year, I decided to go ahead and bring them in for a couple of hours yesterday.
For me, it was actually insanely stressful because my kids being loud or annoying in my house is just par for the course on any given day, but when my children’s loud, annoying behavior affects other people, I get physically anxious.
“Inside voice!” I hiss-whispered, running after Georgia.
“No, Ruby, leave Angie alone – she doesn’t need a back massage; she’s trying to work!”
“Georgia! Honey! Come back in Mommy’s office and shut the door and be quiet!”
“Ruby! Edward does not want to learn about NumNoms! Come back here!”
Basically, none of my instruction was particularly effective, and instead of my daughters learning about work, my coworkers learned about stupid fourth grade trends and watched unboxing videos. It was not a productive day for anyone, really – especially because in addition to my kids, some of my coworkers interpreted the “our children” part to include two dogs and a mini-pig.
I asked the kids to debrief me after the day was over and tell me what they’d learned:
- Ruby: “Well, I thought Inkjoy pens were the best pens – I once traded a Pop-Tart to my friend for two Inkjoy pens, and I thought that was a really good trade. But Mom, you have Flair pens, and Flair pens are way better than Inkjoy. I want all Flair pens now.” (My good pens, much like my good chocolate, are typically things I hide from Ruby, and I was hoping to keep her ignorant of the good pens for a bit longer. Oh, well.)
- Georgia: “Your office chair spins really fast!”
- Ruby: “I should trust you when you tell me things at that coffee shop are gross. You told me the croissant would be better and the blueberry scone would be nasty, and I know you know that because you go to that coffee shop all the time, but I still wanted the blueberry scone, and I got it, and it was disgusting. So: Listen to your mother, or listen to people who should know something.” (If she has actually learned this, every bit of yesterday will have been worth it, praise God, alleluia.)
- Georgia: “The good candy isn’t on the front desk. The good candy is hidden in Ms. Hollie’s desk.”
- Ruby: “You’re all just as silly and immature as we are. You laugh at dumb jokes and talk about farts, and Will threw something at Edward, and he would have gone to the principal at my school if he’d done that.”
- Ruby and Georgia: “Work is way more fun with a piglet!”
On that last one, for sure, we can all agree. Work with my kids might not have gone the way the founders of Take Our Children to Work Day intended, but I can wholeheartedly cosign the notion that work is way more fun with a piglet.