Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"I am so shocked at how well this is working,"

says a woman who works as a wine steward in a grocery store in Portland, Ore., and brings her baby to work with her.

(Sigh; Wine, says the fat lady, wistfully. I remember wine, and martinis.)

Read the whole story, by Noelle Crombie of The Oregonian, here:

Working Baby v. 2.0

It's another girl!

She's not scheduled for delivery until October, but gosh I feel like I've been pregnant for, like, ever. And she moves around way more than I remember #1 ever doing, so I suppose there's the very real possibility that this one will turn out to be a demon child, which could change everything. (Oh yes, I'm planning on bringing her to work, but it's also true not every baby is suited for office life. Though if she turns out to be a not-Working Baby, I don't have the first clue what I'll do with her ...)

But Dad Esq. and I were babysitting for his cousin's three-month-old last weekend, and I started to think how nice it will be, actually, to have a baby around again, and how much easier it was to bring a baby to work than a toddler. We had the baby for not even six hours total, and he took two naps in that time. And the rest of the time he looked around and gurgled and chewed on a blanket.

And to think, the first time around I thought there was some challenge in juggling all that with work.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

We're ba-ack...but not for long! I hope.

So, at last, we come to the question everyone's been asking: how long is too long to take a baby to work?

Answer: about two weeks past a child's second birthday.

Which is, unfortunately, almost two months ago now. And yet, the fat lady and the toddler in question are still shlepping into work every day.

Isn't that always what happens? You try to hang on to a good thing for just a little too long, and then suddenly it's not such a good thing anymore.

Why is it not such a good thing anymore? Let me count the ways:

First, there's the talking. A few days before the W. B.'s second birthday, Dad, Esq. and I decided it would be fun to make a list of all the words she knew. We came up with a couple hundred, give or take, and were pretty impressed. And a little relieved, because the kid had seemed to be sort of taking her time, to the extent that at least one person had annoyed us by asking if we--being pretty wordy people--didn't worry a little that she was so un-verbal.

Well, ha! Because a week or so later, the girl was speaking in paragraphs--long, unlikely combinations of words we didn't even know she knew, with subjects and verbs and adjectives and strings of prepositional phrases.

I know, I know: this is completely typical child development. But until you've lived through it, it's hard to believe. And seriously mind-blowing, and (most of the time) funny as hell.

And really, really demanding. I think this must be the point where full-time mothers (ok, I don't even know what I mean by that--all mothers are full-time mothers. We'll table that discussion for another time) start to go a little nuts. Sure, the relative silence and unresponsiveness of a baby gives you that isolated, here-I-am-talking-to-myself-again feeling, but life with a two-year old is a constant, low-level, just-loud-enough-to-drown-out-your-own-thoughts-but-not-loud-enough-to-actually-be-intellectually-satisfying conversation. Uh-huh, that's a dog, yes he's walking down the street, yes, we're following him, yes, that's the cookie place, no we won't stop there today, yes, we have food for when we get to work, no we don't have any applesauce today, but yes we have a banana, uh-huh dad is at his work, can you run to our work? no, mum can't carry you, because she's carrying her bag full of papers and her laptop and your food and her coffee and a baby in her belly, remember?

Don't get me wrong: this is not an entirely unpleasant haze to get lost in. Though it's true, as many have observed, that it leaves you a little short on conversation starters at grown-up events. (On the bright side, the toddler gives you an excuse not to go to grown-up events as much, so I guess it all works out, right?)

So there's a certain ... distraction factor. Not that it's not possible to ignore a lot of the babble, because it is. I hear the word "poop" and I run, but other than that, it's possible to drown out the chatter, give or take, and to feel relatively ok about doing that for three or four hours a day. I think (though I'm sort of afraid to ask) everyone else in the office is developing the same skill, and perhaps after this, we can all go to work at the U.N. or in a strip mine, or a call center, or Iraq, or somewhere else where there's constant background noise to tune out.

But it's not just the sounds--it's that there's so much more intent behind them. "I have a good idea," the Babe will announce, marching up to someone's desk. "We will eat your food now" or "We should play Kennywood now" (admittedly, playing Kennywood--which involves Tall Coworker swinging her up to the ceiling and swooping around in circles and flying into the other room--is pretty fun) or "We should send a fax now, and talk to robots." (Because, of course, if you push enough buttons on the fax machine, eventually a robot answers. She's Wall-E's friend, naturally.)

And then there's the physical ability to back up the intent. A month ago, one of the Working Baby's favorite pastimes was filling a bucket with pens and markers, then dumping it out and filling it again. Kept her occupied, and if anyone needed a fancy, colored writing utensil, well, they knew where to find it. But then she learned how to pull the caps off. So now her favorite pastime is drawing on her hands, and feet, and legs, and bits of scrap paper, and bits of non-scrap paper, and, yes, even the walls. (A tip: wet-erase markers do wet-erase from painted walls, and without much effort. So that's good.)

And, more generally, "Mummy, stop working now, and play" is a tough one.

So the question is, what do I do now? Because as far as I'm aware, there's not a doorstep where I can just drop her off on a Monday morning in the middle of July. (The plan has always been to send her to part-time preschool in September, so it's really just the timing. I did know this wouldn't work forever. Duh.)

And, btw, if anyone out there has tips for how I can convince Dad, Esq., that this isn't just my problem, please do send them along! The obvious thing would be dropping the little darling off on the Firm's doorstep on Monday morning. Would that be satisfying? Well, yes, but probably only for a few minutes...