My day job can be pretty cool. No dress code. Flexible hours. I get to (usually) create something new. I’m surrounded by fun and creative people. I’m surrounded by artists who generally ignore HR norms and policies. In fact, most of the companies I’ve worked for and with subscribe to the “you do you” theory of HR oversight. One of my colleagues would start her staff meetings by singing one of her own compositions titled “You Bitchy Little F*&^ers”. An artist friend of mine has a huge velvet painting in his office I believe was titled “Caballero Gives You The Finger”.
So imagine my surprise when I took my young sons to work to see me do my thing and they were positive they were about to die of boredom. Not figuratively. Literally die of boredom. They thought meetings and reviews were stupid and boring (they were right). They were certain that a 30 minute discussion on the stylebook inconsistencies that created color discrepancies was a sign of the apocalypse (also probably right). At home that night they described the best part of the day as lunchtime (for sure right).
I want The Boys to know me. Not some illustration of me, some parable I’ve created to manipulate their behavior. You know what I’m talking about, all the “when I was a kid” crap. Like I’ve said before, I want them to know where our scars come from. When I was little, I at times wanted to be a fireman or a policeman or a pilot. When I was a teenager I wanted to do something huge and important. I wanted to have one of those careers that are so awesome there are only ten of them in the entire country. Instead, I ended up doing something far less important, but still something I love. And I wanted them to see it and appreciate it. To be proud of it. So I too exposed my sons to the horrors of Bring Your Kid to Work day.
But here’s what I think now. They were proud anyway. And no young kid is going to find what you do to be that awesome when they watch it. Careers are about 10% super exciting and about 90% watching paint dry to make sure it dries right. Mind numbing. Even Navy Seals and Rock Stars are bored at work a lot of the time. One of my younger son’s closest friends is a smart, athletic, and popular kid. He’s seeking a degree in Accounting, like his mom. Why? I suspect it’s because he appreciates the life his mom earned and provided him and his sister, and all the possibilities such a career offers. It’s certainly not because of all the excitement from Bring Your Kid To Work Day.
Considering all that, I was happy to find myself in this situation last week: A tour around the workplace that was eye-opening and fun. Seeing the obvious respect and admiration from colleagues. Seeing and appreciating the hard work done. Having a fuller picture of how the day is spent, and of the positive impact made on others.
Yeah, I think I like Bring Your Parents To Work Day.