My coworkers generally do not participate in TYSoDTWD. Occasionally someone will do it to save on childcare, but usually it's to prevent the kid from skipping school. Rarely has anybody brought their son or daughter to work to observe the world of full-time employment, because the world of full-time employment usually looks very, very boring.
Where I work, there are exactly three different approaches to having your child at your desk.
- You can tell them to sit quietly and watch you work, and if you're in a good mood, you might explain a little of what you're doing.
- You can directly engage the kid in your work, explaining it to them in detail, and letting them do some of it.
- You can attempt #2, but choose entirely the wrong kinds of hands-on activities, and then get angry when it doesn't work.
First, her daughter -- who is somewhere in the vicinity of 9 -- wanted to look at the toys in my cube, and the stuff over there, and who's the fat lady? and what does this do and why do you have so many books at your desk and mommy, why do you need four yellow highlighters? and so on. After she calmed down, her mother tried to explain the software we use.
Computer literate people take a couple of days to get kinda-sorta-more-or-less comfortable with the system. People who are already used working on a remote system through a terminal are quicker, but it definitely takes more than a couple of minutes, which is how long it took before my neighbor started saying things like "No! No! Dammit! That little guy in the corner of the screen means you can't type anymore! Press escape and now don't touch anything. Okay, now. This is the TPQ screen. I think that stands for The Pending Queue. That's where things go when they have to pend, which means you have to wait for something. Now this is the TRQ screen. That's The Representative Queue, but it has nothing to do with representments, which are the documents in the blue folder in my in-box. And this... is the TMM screen, which is the memo screen. M is W upside-down, so think of it as The Whiteboard with a W instead of two Ms, and that's where you put notes..."
This went on for a couple of hours. The little girl can't possibly have learned anything except that her mother is impatient and presumptuous, which I suppose she already knew since, y'know, it's her mom. Her mother also made her answer the phone every time it rang, which always sounded tentative and uncomfortable, and there was one call where my neighbor had to defend her professionalism against someone who was offended by the child's voice on the other end of the phone.
They took an early lunch just as I was starting to get annoyed with the occasional squeals of "mom! That guy has twelve million dollars!" and "This person buys from GGW Video. I know what that is -- it's Girls Gone Wild." The little girl didn't come back to work. Lunch might have been even earlier if my boss weren't on vacation.
Anyway, it's not the kid's fault. This is a job for adults, and while I definitely think there's value in letting your child observe you at work, there are definitely right ways and wrong ways to do it.
On the other hand, one of my other coworkers brought in her preschooler, who, though too young to appreciate any of what we do here, was able to tell me a delightful knock-knock joke:
Knock knock.I hate to admit to stealing material, but I plan to get a lot of mileage out of that one when I go on the club circuit.
I'm a frog.
I'm a frog who?
Get that noisy frog out of here!