|Kid, what kid?|
The saga of Adam LaRoche, who quit the White Sox this week after they told him he was bringing his teenage son Drake to the locker room too much, prompted me to write a column for tomorrow about the jaw-dropping kerfuffle. In researching it, I pulled up this column from a decade back, about taking my own kid to the paper.
Thursday was Take Our Daughters and Sons and Transgendered Offspring To Work Day, or whatever they call it, and when my oldest boy begged to go, at first I flatly refused.
"I'm not having you miss a day of school so you can sit in the newsroom and watch Nickelodeon for six hours," I said.
If that sounds harsh, and not the warm, Iliad-reading daddy image I cultivate, the explanation is that he was just at the office three weeks ago, during spring break. Both boys were. This "holiday," to use his word, seemed artificial to me, something contrived, cooked up to spur the negligent, like Sweetest Day. I saw no reason to conform.
But youth is about conformity. My boy whined and wheedled. He insisted that kids were supposed to miss school. Nobody would be there, just him, all alone in an empty classroom, the orphan boy.
I held my ground — I can do that sometimes. Until the unexpected — he burst out weeping, and wailed how he didn't go last year because I was in Israel and didn't the year before because I was in Taiwan and now he'd never go. Confronted with his steel trap memory, I wilted, The Bad Dad.
"OK, OK," I said. "Fine, go." I know you're not supposed to give in, and know that by admitting it I will hear from every reader whose parents weren't wavering milquetoasts like me, about how parental firmness gave them spine and ginger and allowed them to live through the Great Depression on grit alone. Good for you. I couldn't stand seeing him cry and yielded, figuring: How long is he going to want to be with me?
I don't know what he's getting out of it — he's in the newsroom right now, watching Tom & Jerry. The Sun-Times isn't like TribCo, which is probably entertaining staffers' kids with jugglers and ponies and actors dressed up as Col. McCormick giving workshops about how to paint enemies red. Here, they don't even put out a salt lick.
But I'm getting something out of it. Your children are a mirror of yourself. Going out the door in the morning, my wife suggested my son write something for the column, something about his school.
"But what if I write something bad?" he said.
"Write good things about school," my wife instructed.
My 9-year-old replied: "I want to write about its faults."
My wife looked at me and we both burst out laughing. "It must be in the genes," she gasped.
—Originally published in the Sun-Times, April 29, 2005