Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Telecommuting and kids

I've been working from home off and on for a couple of months now. Usually one or two days a week. But with having had a bad sinus infection for the past 2 weeks, no one wanted me at the office spreading my germies before Christmas. I was more then happy to oblige, especially since we don't have a car and it's hideously cold and icy here.

So far when I've worked at home Liam has been in school. We have some time that overlaps; I start work an hour before he leaves in the morning and he's home an hour before my day ends. Those are quiet hours for him though where he is easily occupied while he wakes up or winds down.

Yesterday was the start of Christmas vacation for Liam. Hilary and I however had to work. We found a great program at our local wave pool. It was a day camp for kids with arts, crafts, games and a swim. Liam loves the wave pool so we thought he would have a great time!

Yeah, not so much.

He cried in the morning that he didn't want to go. We coaxed, cajoled, threatened and bribed and got him there. By 10:00 they were calling to tell me that he was sitting in the corner with his tiger Ralphie, crying and refusing to participate. Boy, did that make me feel swell. The program director said that they were going to try and get him engaged and not to come pick him up just yet, but they just wanted to give me a heads up. When Hilary picked him up at 4:00 he was jammin' on Guitar Hero and having a great time. So we figured that going again today would work out all right.

Yeah, not so much.

He decided before bed last night that he wasn't going back. No way, no how! After feeling like a schmuck for making our child cry in a corner surrounded by strangers we decided to not force the issue and let him stay home. He knew that I had to work so I couldn't play and he couldn't bother me. Hilary stayed home too to get some last minute pre-Christmas stuff done.

My job is very task driven. I run a lot of reports that require an intense 30 seconds of work to set them up and then10 minutes of watching the gears spin around counting down the time till it's done. So having Hilary and Liam home while I work is not that big a deal. I can chat, pour milk, snap the hard pieces of Lego together as needed. On Tuesdays though I have a one hour conference call that I lead that several important people attend. I told Liam that this was happening and we laid out all the activities he could do while I was on the phone and covered all the activities he could not do. Could nots included shouting, loud toys in the room, interrupting etc.

Somehow though when a 6 year old sees a telephone in their parents hand they go berserk! He lasted about 1 minute of being quiet then started in on a loud stage whisper asking me questions. As I covered the mouth piece and tried to shoo him away he dissolved into a bit of a maniac (Hilary was previously occupied in the shower at this time, as the plan had been for her to take Liam out during my call but they were running behind.) As I shot him "the look" he decided to make raspberry noises on his arm, jump up and down, practice his arm-pit farts, wrap himself around my leg and generally be a menace.

Part of his outing with Hilary had been for him spend some of his cash and by a small toy. (Yeah, yeah, I know.. it's 2 days before Christmas.... ) In a fit of frustration I hissed at him "that's it, you are NOT buying a toy today!" Which of course was met with a loud wail akin to a wounded goat.

I banged on the bathroom door (all the while keeping the call going and trying to screen the noise out with my hand) and got Hilary to come out and deal with the whole situation. Apparently Liam sobbed for half an hour with her upstairs. I finished the call and we regrouped as a family. Appologies were given and accepted in all directions, hugs exchanged and there were promises to try better by everyone.

No one on my call seemed to notice the hoopla going on at my end of the call, or at least they were polite enough not to comment on it!

I had planned on working at home for the remainder of the holiday season (and perhaps beyond if I can convince my boss that this should be a full time thing!). I'm going to have to come up with a much better strategy for phone calls and meetings though. I wonder if my wireless connection works in the attic?
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