I never got to spend time with either of my parents at their workplaces. My father taught elementary school. At home I saw him grade papers, plan lessons, and agonize over writing sufficiently positive report card comments. Once a year I got to go to the fun fair held at his school where I felt like a minor celebrity as his students gawked at me. My mother was a registered nurse. She didn’t talk much about her work but I did look through her nursing journals, notable for gruesome photos of wounds and diseases in full color. Maybe the distance from my parents’ workplaces is one reason why I’m so adamant that kids need more exposure to the working community.
I asked my fellow GeekMoms about experiences they had at their parents’ workplaces as well as how much their own kids have been exposed to the work-a-day world.
My mom worked throughout my childhood as a real estate agent, and then as a skincare consultant. Totally different jobs, yes! I tagged along with both my parents when I was really little, purporting myself to be an expert on “realting” houses (there’s video evidence, even). I was always in awe of the way my mom conducted herself. So professional, so put together, so enthusiastic. For someone who never finished college and came to US schools in the 60s speaking only French, she had a lot of cards against her. But she’s smart as a whip, and because she learned so fast she excelled in everything she did.
When she worked as a skincare consultant, she got me my first job, working at the same office (a plastic surgeon). While she knew her job back and forth and held herself with the same poise and innate beauty, she showed me something more. Her patients adored her. Confided in her. Time and again they told me how much my mom meant to them, how much they trusted and respected and loved her. Dozens of people. And that taught me more than anything. Regardless of success or social status, she showed me that connecting with people is the most lasting part of having a job. And I’ll take that with me wherever I go.
My mom worked for a variety of large corporations and every once in a while my sister and I would go with her to the office. I remember very tall cubicles and having a hard time finding my way around, something I still experience whenever I’m faced with tall cubicles. The moment we were left alone in her cubicle, we would write “Hi Mom!” on as many post-it notes as we could and hide them around her office. We were so obnoxious it’s a wonder we didn’t get her fired.
I mostly work from home, so you could say that my kids always come to work with me. When I bring them to client offices, though, everyone is always so glad to have kids around. It’s not long before people are throwing products in front of them to see what they think. Such are the hazards of having a mom who works in children’s media.
My dad took me to the labs in the hospital every once in a while. He was a lab tech and microbiologist. I saw him growing specimens in petrie dishes and got to look at things under microscopes. I thought it was fascinating. My mom was a substitute teacher for a while, and every once in a while I *was* her work. That? Not as fun. But mostly I remember how happy she was to go back to work and have a career after years of staying home, and I suspect it had an impact on my decision not to quit my job in the first place.
I was never interested in going to work with my dad. As an adult, I work at the same company he did though and now my son comes to work with me when he has a break from school. It’s not because he’s interested in my job though…I have a TON of toys and a bean bag chair in my office and he likes to build forts and play with the toys.
My mother was a high school band and music teacher. Often, we would go into her classroom, and on band field trips. Some of the most memorable field trips were to the movie studios in Vancouver, seeing the sets of MacGyver and 21 Jump Street, going rock climbing on one of the famous locations for MacGyver, and going to Whistler. Also, watching Aida in Vancouver. But, it really was no different than being in our own classroom, or going on our own field trips. She had to no choice but to bring us on these weekend trips with her class.
The thing that was memorable was the different teaching environment. My sister and I were in a French immersion school, which has a completely different teaching environment than primary English schools. Also, she taught at a school that had a large number of students with various type of behavioural problems. So, for me the more memorable part was being exposed to a different school environment.
I went to work a couple times with my dad–he’s a microbiologist. I didn’t find it that exciting. My parents did own a water testing business. My dad did the science stuff and my mom got the samples as well as doing the office stuff. In the summer I’d ride with her when she got the samples. It was fun.
I work from home so my child is here when I’m working.
I went to work with my mom, an elementary school teacher, but not during class time. I helped her prep things, pack and unpack the classroom, do bulletin boards. For several years she also moonlighted in Admitting at a hospital on the weekends, and I did go with her sometimes and learn how to make ID bracelets, find rooms, pick up new admits, and stay awake. Years later, when I was in college, I actually had the same job in a different hospital.
At a software company, 10 or 15 years ago, we had take your kid to work days that were pretty awesome… The kids video-conferenced with kids at another office across the country, had a commemorative ID photo with the parent, toured the office and the office park, including the fitness and sports facilities (blow off steam), shadowed their parent for half a day and/or a worker in a field that interested them, for the older kids. We brought in a good catered lunch and had a hands-on Mad Science activity. My kids have very fond memories of the several years this was in effect; it was eventually scaled back. However, they also remember fondly when they would come in for mundane visits and one of my colleagues would take them to help water a bunch of plants.
I don’t think anything from those visits influenced their career choices, but I do think seeing work environments helps kids honor, understand, and respect what a parent does.
How many of us got a glimpse at our parents’ workplaces? How many of our own kids spend time with us at work? We’d like to hear your stories!