Friday, August 10, 2007

The Truth About Working From Home

Telecommuting is great, but also dangerous. I've been splitting my work week between the office and home for as long as I've been a dad, and after two and a half years of balancing my work load between two offices (and at two different non-profits), I think I have a pretty good grasp on how to work and when to work, so that everything I need to do actually gets done. The problem is that even though I understand when I am most productive and what kind of schedule I need to follow to make sure I'm checking things off my to do list, its not always easy to follow that schedule.

Avoiding the distractions I thought were going to be a problem is pretty easy. When I started this, I was concerned that my biggest problem would be the urge to drop everything and just watch movies all day long. There is nothing quite like the siren call of a shiny new DVD or a seductive, old favorite, calling out to you when you've got a stack of thank you letters to write and zero interest in doing them. Why develope that pitch for your new special event when you can watch Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman spin an imaginary war? Why make follow-up calls when you can see that sneaky HAL-9000 murder astronauts?

But, surprisingly, I've been able to resist. Video games? No problem. Those are alluring, yes, but either being a dad has matured me some or I've just outgrown the need to shoot aliens in the face, but I don't spend much time with those any more.

The biggest problem is my son. Some days he's very understanding of my need to work. He plays quietly by himself, or loudly by himself, but he generally leaves me alone. Other days, he'll walk over, pull one of my hands away from my computer keyboard, and say, "Come on, Daddy, let's go play!"

How can you resist that? How can I possibly say, "No, son, daddy doesn't love you. I'd rather spend all morning on this report than spend fifteen minutes on the floor with you, playing pirates?"*

Or, what about when nap time rolls around? That Chunk is a clever kid, always playing the angles. He hates to take his naps, so mustering all of his avoidance tactics, he'll say, "Sleep in big bed? Come on, daddy!" and drag me off to my own bed, where he expects me to nap with him.

Again, there are exactly zero ways to stay firm and on task, when your child is offering to tuck you in for an afternoon nap. And, unfortunately, Chunk is smart enough to know this. He's damn, persuasive, that kid. He'd make a good politician.

* Not an actual quote, of course, but it sure feels like it sometimes.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thomas The Tank Engine Is Trying To Kill Your Kids

I always found Thomas the Tank Engine a little... weird. I mean, sure, he's the cheeky one... says so in the song and everything, but he's got some serious self-esteem issues. If Sir Topham Hatt isn't praising him every day and calling him "useful," Thomas spins off into this whole self-worth death spiral. I don't know if I want my son learning lessons from a steam engine that clearly needs a good therapist.

On top of that, Thomas and his pals are also horribly poisonous. Not in that wanting "Nothing... but a GOOD TIME" way, but in that "coated in lead paint, asbestos, and deadly asps" kind of way. Check it out.

I would have mentioned this earlier, but this came up during my month of ne'er-do-well-ness and so I wasn't really posting.

The good news? The company managing the recall seems really sincere. I mailed off all of Chunk's affected toys and got an e-mail back saying they're working on it. I don't know what that means exactly, except that my son cries whenever the subject comes up, but they're on it and I guess that's good.

All joking aside, I don't have to tell any of you that lead paint is a bad thing for little minds. If your son or daughter is a fan of the Thomas wooden train sets, check the recall. Like many things, it's better to be safe than sorry.

The Morning After

He does it on purpose. I don't have proof, but I just know this is all a part of some devious, even nefarious, scheme of his, no doubt concocted with his little tribe of preschool friends. They're all in on it, you see, plotting, scheming, with their Crayola-etched blueprints and plans, their apple juice box models diagraming precise locations, potential escape routes, maybe the location of the “nilla wafers.”

Yesterday was board meeting day for me, which combined with the mentally ill hour I try to get into the office (no later than six thirty in the morning, thankyouverymuch), made for a fourteen hour work day. That's fourteen and a half hours, if you want to get technical, followed by a ride home on my bike... yes, in the rain. It's a common saying in Colorado that if you don't like the weather, just wait fifteen minutes, and something else will come along. It's an exaggeration, of course, but not much of one. Except for last night, when Colorado was apparently doing a dress rehearsal for the part of Seattle, making my commute home a bit more soaked than usual.

But, it's not something I was going to complain about. No siree, I got in a good, productive day and from my vantage point, it was all downhill from there. No, not on my bike. That's all uphill for the trip home. Love that. I meant the work week was all downhill from that point on.

I came home to a family already sleeping, so tiptoeing through the dark, I crawled into bed for a well deserved night of rest and... those of you who are parents know where I'm going with this... only to have a night of screaming and crying.

Chunk, of course, was sick.

Denver Mom didn't feel much better. So, right after I got home, she took some sort of cold medicine and slipped into a drug-induced coma that an atomic bomb test couldn't disturb, leaving me as the sole parent to handle that special two-hour mambo that requires water, comforting, and back-rubs at precise times throughout the night, or... I don't know... the world itself will end.

Does anyone want a two-year old? He's slightly used and has more miles on him than you'd expect, but he's built like a tank, is cute as hell, and knows the names of the entire Justice League of America.