It's time to admit that Take Your Child to Work Day is an outdated relic of 1970s feminism, and we can put the whole thing to rest.
Do you remember that the day started as Take Our Daughters to Work? It was the 70s, and women wanted their daughters to know that they could do anything. Here's what came of that era: Latchkey kids who never saw their parents after school except on Take Our Daughters to Work Day. And, then later, those same little girls grew up to feel intense pressure to put work before kids which ushered in the biggest fertility train wreck in history, with Gen X thinking it would be fine to wait until after 30 to have kids.
So I have a bad taste in my mouth from the era of Take Our Daughters to Work. But then we had the era of boys underperforming. That's right: Boys are doing so much worse than girls in school that it's officially easier to get into college if you're a boy (scores are lower and so are GPAs) and once these kids enter the workforce, girls make more than boys do.
So some probably-drumming, angry, white male decided that it shouldn't just be daughters. It should be sons, too. So now we have Take Your Child to Work.
But here's what I want to know: Why?
This holiday now strikes me as one similar to Secretaries Day, which is a relic from the days when there were no computers and secretaries had thankless jobs and the men who were having sex with them on the side always forgot to thank her in the spotlight for the typing, so there is an official reminder day to buy her a card. That made sense. Twenty years ago.
Which is why it reminds me of Take Your Child to Work Day.
You know what else reminds me of this special day? The Week of the Young Child. Seriously. It was last week. Did you celebrate? Of course you did. Because every week is the week of the young child, because if you don't focus on young children they die. They eat bleach or get bitten by a squirrel or run over by a car.
The reason the Week of the Young Child reminds me of Take Your Child to Work Day is because, at this point, every day is taking children to work. I'm on my Blackberry all the time, and my division between work and kids is very tenuous. This is pretty common for my generation. And I think we're pretty happy with it — or we'd stop. So it's pretty clear to me that we don't need a day for kids being at work because they get exposed to their parents working all the time.
And anyway, do you know how annoying kids are for people who do not have kids? It's already totally over the top how many concessions people with kids get vs. people without kids. My cousin, for example, is a doctor, and when her colleague went on maternity leave early, my cousin was asked to cover for her because everyone in the practice has kids except for my cousin. This is routine behavior in corporate life (I know — I benefit from it all the time at my own company where I'm the only one with kids.)
So what we don't need is a day when people’s kids come into the office, disrupt everyone, eat all the good snacks and use up all the good office supplies. The disruption serves little purpose except to remind people without kids that kids are the center of the universe.
So I think this holiday is BS, and kids understand that they can be anything they want to be, so I don't see a point in dragging them to work. Which is why I didn't.
I ignored the holiday last year. And when I picked my son up at school, he said, “It's Take Children to Work Day. Are you taking me to your work?”
I say, “What? How do you know it's that day? Who told you?”
“My teachers brought their children to school because school is their work.”
What? Is this legal? My kids are in Madison, WI public schools. Surely it is not legal for teachers to bring their own kids into the classroom.
But before I can decide what to do about this, my son says, “I want to go to your work.”
How can I say no? I try to think of a way, believe me. But I don't have the heart.
The problem is that there is nothing in my office. Just some books.
So I buy a bunch of cookies from the coffee shop across the street from my office, and I borrow the white board from Photis and magic markers from Ryan Paugh. And my son draws on the board in between bites of cookies.
He says, “Take Your Child to Work Day is boring, let's go home.”
Maybe this is a victory.