Sunday, March 20, 2016

Take Your Son to Work Or Else Day

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




9 comments:

  1. Mr. Scarborough's Family about a father with 2 sons in no way resembles Mr. Steinberg's family, but gives me the excuse of quoting the thoughts of said Mr. Scarborough: "Law, hardly less absurd than religion, consists of a perplexed entanglement of rules got together so that the few might live in comfort at the expense of the many."

    john

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    1. Lovely. I've entered it into my 'mish mash' book along with other Trollopiana.

      Tom Evans

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  2. Wow, what a messy office,with some hoarding tendencies exposed! ;)

    Nice photo though and thanks for the reminder of Col McCormick, the anti-labor Republican with the Trib connection. One can hear more about him at Cantigny Museum in Wheaton. Good place to visit with the First Division museum but I digress.

    In this case,it's good that you caved. Hope they enjoyed the day.

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    1. What museum is the location of that photo on the top from?

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    2. Churchill's War Rooms at Whitehall in London.

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    3. Churchill's War Rooms at Whitehall in London.

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    4. Isn't that photo the Frank Lloyd Wright Studio in Oak Park?

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  3. An inspired choice. No kids possible because most had been evacuated to the country. picking unions, by the time the War Room was in business.

    In every office I've worked in, unless you're part of the action nothing seems to be happening.

    Tom Evans

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  4. Re "Iliad-reading daddy," I've been listening to that classic, in the Fitzgerald translation, during my morning walks. Read very well by Dan Stevens, the unusually literate actor who enjoyed a brief, automotively terminated, marriage to Lady Mary. I had forgotten how violent it is, filled with grisly details of the damage done by bronze age weapons to the human body. Someone once said it is about "mankilling," as the Odyssey is about adventure. Sharing it with your kid might almost seem like child abuse. But then there is the vivid language that explains why it endures, fueled by double and triple barreled descriptive adjectives: the wine dark sea; grey-eyed Athena; golden helmeted Achilles; great king Agamemnon.

    Tom Evans

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