My older daughter was out the door, catching a ride with my wife as she has been doing since the beginning of grade 11. My wife and I promised each other it would be different this year…no car rides unless the weather was brutal. The bus stop is seconds from our front door and its a single bus ride up the street and then another 3 minute walk to school and the little bit of exercise would do her good.
My younger one started at middle school this year. Up to this point, she has had it pretty good. Our backyard fronts onto the school yard of the elementary school in the neighborhood, so we have been very blessed that the walk to school has been so short. Now, she meets a buddy half way along the walk to her new school but still…its no more than 15 minutes. Again, the exercise would do her good!
So, today, like I do every morning since I have been working from home, I locked the front door as my younger daughter made her way to school and began my own work day.
As I started into my own routine, I began asking myself what our children think my wife and I do during the day when they are off at school?
When I was a kid, I rarely saw my dad in the morning since he left for the gym and then off to work at an ungodly hour. In those days, he worked out by the airport and from where we were living at the time, it was probably a 30 minute commute….nowadays you have to at least double it…depending on how early you are prepared to get up to go to work.
So, it was mom who got me up..moved me along to get dressed, ensure that I brushed my teeth and eat my breakfast as I ventured to the school a short walk from home.
I never gave much thought to how she spent her day after I headed off to school. I knew she would be home at lunch because in those days, I came home for lunch. The Flintstones from noon to 12:30 and Touché Turtle until I had to walk back or school. But, between noon and one o’clock, I knew exactly where my mom was and what she was doing.
Nowadays, with many husbands and wives/mothers and fathers working, most kids are shuffled off to daycare where they spend their time before school starts and after school ends until they get picked up by their parents.
So what happens to us parents in between? I wonder if my kids even know what we do during the day. While it is true that my kids are not little ones anymore – 16 and 12, they are also at the stage where the world revolves around themselves. They don’t really care where we are or what we are doing while they are occupied at school. They probably think that as long as we are home when they are home and so long as all that is needed to keep them satisfied and reasonably content (food) is maintained, I don’t think they really give a shit.
But I guess it is unreasonable for my kids to think about how my wife and I spend our days while they are at school. Afterall, while they are at school, they should be focused on school…right? They really shouldn’t be worried about what meeting mommy or daddy has to go to, or what report is due to the boss, or when I have to head on a road trip…out of town for the day or overnight. They don’t care about cash-flow and payday or bonuses and commissions. They don’t know anything about benefits or annual reviews or horrible things like downsizing.
My 12 year old had no clue back when she was 7-8 months old that her dad was downsized out of a job. I don’t think if I told her know she would know what that meant or really be curious to know more about what happened.
I don’t hold this against my kids. When I was young, there were some events in my dad’s professional life that my mom and dad told my sister and I about…but they were mostly positioned as “good things”…like, “Daddy is starting a new job at a new company. He is really excited about it and we thought we would share the good news with you and your sister!”. Translated…”dad got the heave-ho and fortunately found a new gig!”.
Children of parents who both work have very long days away from home. Those that are unable to get home on their own (better known as “latch-key” kids), must start their day very early and must usually stay at daycare until closer to 6 o’clock. Those who are old enough to get home on their own, must be independent enough to come into an empty house, lock the door and grab a snack and be trusted to start into their homework as soon as possible. Those who have a stay-at-home parent or a nanny are not included in this blog!
Working parents have even longer days than their children. They get up before the kids wake…get their own selves ready, get lunches prepared and then must get the kids going (dressed and fed…and out the door) and be able to get to work in time without the boss saying, “late again??”. Then they have to get the kids home, settled (a little snack to get them through), make dinner and get them into the homework routine before showering and getting them off to bed. Only then can the parents truly relax.
Whatever parents do when their kids are at school, children need to appreciate….that much I know! Parents work very hard to provide for their children. Even basic things like making sure they eat, wear clean clothes and live in a safe, warm home…are things that children should not take for granted for one second!
Despite some of the glowing news reports, we are still living in difficult times. None of us are assured or guaranteed anything.
So, if your children ever ask you what you do during the day, hold your head high and say, “I take care of you!”