First things first… I have to come clean. This was completely unplanned.
A couple of weeks before the official “Take your grade nine kid to work day”, Lianne asked our son Daniel if he wanted to spend the day with her at her law firm. The fourteen-year-old thought about it for about two seconds and immediately passed.
He didn’t think watching lawyers push paper and take conference calls was exciting enough to hold his attention for a full day.
I guess that was that, until Daniel discovered that 95% of his grade nine class was actually taking advantage of this opportunity and all of a sudden, HE WANTED IN TOO! So, in typical teenager fashion, he came to Lianne the DAY BEFORE and asked if he could still come to her office.
Her answer was short, sweet and to the point:
“No Daniel, you can’t come to my office for the day. My firm would have planned some activities for you, and they would have needed a heads up that you were coming. You can’t just show up at the last minute!”
He was disappointed, but still determined to find a sneaky way to play hooky from school. Then a light bulb went off just above my son’s head, his eyes got big and he excitedly turned to me:
“Dad! How about I spend the day with YOU… at home!!! Can you call the school and tell them I’ll be going to work with you???”
I knew exactly what he meant by this. He simply wanted a day off school to sit in his room, watch YouTube videos and basically DO NOTHING.
My answer was short, sweet and to the point:
“Absolutely you can stay home with me, as long as you promise to do exactly what I do all day, with NO complaints.”
Daniel promised me he would be a GOOD BOY and the decision was made. My son would shadow a stay-at-home Dad for “Take your kid to work” day. I’m pretty sure he thought it was going to look more like the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, so I was determined to keep the young lad occupied and perhaps he would learn a thing or two about my world… at least for one day.
And so, DAN@HOME began: Wednesday, November 6th, 2019.
TIME TO GET SERIOUS.
7:00 AM: Wake up!
Actually… um, no. That would be my normal wake-up time. I normally wake my son by 7:00 AM and then go downstairs to fix him some breakfast. But, he wasn’t going to school, so I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t sleep in a bit, so that’s what I did. And so did Daniel.
8:10 AM: Wake up! (Take two)
OK, this time I did it for real. We were finally up and at ’em and ready to start the day. Normally, by 8:10 AM I would be out the door to drive Daniel to his school bus stop, but because he was spending the day with me, that task was no longer required.
However, my Uber driving skills were still needed, as Lianne had a client function the previous evening, left her car at work and required a lift downtown. We had our first task of the day, so I told Daniel to put on some pants. We were going on a road trip.
9:00 AM: Drop off Lianne at work.
When I first asked Daniel to get ready to leave the house, he looked a bit surprised… like he didn’t think he actually had to participate in this whole “shadow his Dad” thingy. But then, he realized this was NOT going to be a day of leisure. No sir. Not by a long shot. (This would be a day of semi-leisure at best.)
9:30 AM: Morning COFFEE!
Speaking of semi-leisure, I decided to forgo my usual routine of making my own morning coffee. Instead, we stopped at our favourite local coffee shop on the way home, where I had a latte and Daniel had an… ICED CHAI??? That wouldn’t be my beverage of choice on a frosty morning, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m not here to judge. After our breakfast of champions, we were ready for some real WORK!
10:10 AM: Dad@Home checks his emails. Dan@Home lies down.
OK, I debated making Daniel pull up a chair and watch me check and answer a few emails but I thought better of it. I didn’t see the point. So, I let the young lad do what he does best: lie down in his un-made bed and look at his phone.
I’ll give you a small sample of the many serious issues I tackled while on my computer. I emailed Daniel’s hockey coach about his two-game suspension (no he’s not a goon, but I don’t have the time to get into it now). I also emailed our veterinarian to double-check the correct dosage of Prozac for our cat Sasha (no she’s not addicted to Prozac, but I don’t have the time to get into it now). Then, I went online to schedule a time for Daniel’s Parent/Teacher interview. And, full disclosure… I also checked my Facebook feed.
Sorry folks, but it’s not ALL serious business.
10:45 AM: Time to get SWEATY! There’s snow to shovel!
I can’t remember the last time I had HELP shoveling the sidewalks, so I took full advantage of my personal stay-at-home Dad assistant. Did I watch my son do a vast majority of the work? Yes, yes I did. I figured it was the least he could do after his lazy lie-down break while I checked emails.
11:42 AM: CAT DUTIES! We’ve got two cats. They need our attention.
Sasha, our female cat… is anxious. She’s been diagnosed with anxiety (cat anxiety to be exact). She’s been so anxious that she has been ignoring her litter box and peeing on pillows and blankets around the house. So, every day we hold her tight and squirt meds directly into her mouth. To be honest, the Prozac actually seems to be working. (It’s also very good to know we have an ample supply in the house in case I ever become so anxious that I stop using the toilet and start peeing in strange places).
On this day, Daniel had the honours of squirting the syringe and he did a good job. After that, we headed into the basement where Daniel fed the cats their dry food. We also feed them canned food, but Daniel says the smell makes him gag, so I didn’t force him to do it. One thing we forgot to do was scoop the poop. Daniel got lucky. No wet food, no litter box duty.
12:11 PM: Household chore – unclog some slow drains.
We have two slow drains in our household. One of them is my sink in our master bathroom, and the other is Daniel’s sink in his bathroom. I’m pretty sure my beard trimmings were clogging up my sink. I have no idea what Daniel is doing to back his up… as he’s not exactly “hairy”.
And speaking of Daniel, you may have noticed that he changed out of his regular clothes and is once again in full “loungewear”. Yup, when he thinks he doesn’t have to leave the house, he deliberately changes back into his sleepwear, and puts on a housecoat that makes him look eerily similar to the serial killer from the movie Silence of the Lambs.
12:38 PM: Laundry. So. Much. Laundry.
By now, Daniel was desperately calling for another “lie-down and look at his phone” break, but I was having none of that. Dagnammit, he was shadowing me, and he had to WORK! Instead, we folded clean laundry and started the process of washing three loads.
It turns out; Dan@Home is just like Dad@Home. Dan@Home doesn’t like doing laundry either.
1:01 PM: LUNCH TIME!!!
I asked Daniel to volunteer to make us delicious fruit smoothies for lunch and after some gentle arm-twisting, he eventually agreed to volunteer. He also had some cheese and crackers on the side, as he found his delicious smoothie was not filling enough for a growing teenage boy. Me, I think I’ve grown quite enough…
1:36 PM: Clean up lunch mess, unpack and pack the dishwasher
1:52 PM: Put in another load of laundry… and make some BEDS!
After cleaning up our lunch mess and loading another load of laundry into the washing machine, I ordered my assistant to remove his flowing housecoat, put some “outdoor” clothes back on, make his damn bed and get ready to run an ERRAND.
2:14 PM: Let’s RUN AN ERRAND!
As a damn stay-at-home Dad, I leave the damn house every damn day to run errands. Frequent destinations include Safeway, Costco, PetSmart, Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart… you name it, I’ve been there. But, sometimes I gotta get some HANDYMAN work done, and there’s only one destination for that.
Daniel has been bugging me for months to install another clothing rod in his closet. Well, now that I had a personal assistant, there was no better time to do it. We picked up the materials, cut the rod and installed the hardware. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
4:24 PM: Run the final load of laundry, change the furnace filter.
5:18 PM: TIME TO MAKE DINNER!!!
When dinnertime rolled around, I experienced my absolute favourite moment of the entire “Bring your kid to work” day. When I asked Daniel to start helping me get dinner ready, his jaw dropped, he stomped his feet and he began his protest in earnest:
“WHAT? I thought I was DONE! I would be done by now if I was at an office today!”
My answer was short, sweet and to the point:
“You sir, are absolutely correct. You would have been done. But, you wanted to shadow ME today, and my workday is far from over.”
To Daniel’s credit, he accepted his fate and got to work. He’s actually a very good cook (for a kid) and is usually in charge of making (or ordering) dinners when both Lianne and I are not home. Lord knows our 16-year-old daughter Abby isn’t the one taking charge in the kitchen!
We actually get a lot of our weekday dinners from “Chefs Plate”. It’s delivered right to our front door! The ingredients are fresh, the recipe cards are easy to follow, and the results speak for themselves… simply delicious!
“Chefs Plate, a stay-at-home Dads BEST FRIEND at dinner time.”
– Greg Tysowski, Dad@Home
(If anyone at Chefs Plate actually sees this, you now owe me $10,000.)
Together, we made Italian Lasagna Soup, described as “using hallmark lasagna ingredients like ground beef, tomatoes, basil, ricotta and parmesan cheese”. It was actually very good!
6:42 PM: Clean up the dinner dishes!
Was Daniel surprised when I asked him to clean up the dinner dishes? No. Did he complain nevertheless? Yes.
Was he VERY relieved when I officially proclaimed that his “Bring your kid to work day” duties were officially wrapped up when he washed that final pot?
7:30 PM: Let’s recap. What lessons (if any) have we learned today?
When I finally released my indentured servant from his day of servitude after almost twelve hours on the job, I asked Daniel the obvious question… the ONLY question:
“Was your day at home with me everything you thought it would be?”
His answer was short, sweet and to the point.
“I’m pretty sure you don’t have to shovel snow and do three loads of laundry EVERY DAY. I think you made this day WAY more busy than it had to be!”
The young lad made a fair argument.
I did make sure we stayed extra busy all day. I also freely admitted that I definitely have days that could accurately be described as LAZY.
I also made it very clear that I sometimes have days so full of errands, chores and appointments that they make this one look like a WALK IN THE PARK.