Working through Take Your Parents to Work Day

I feel as though I’m missing something. Like a decade or two.

I recently heard about Take Your Parents to Work Day. This new trend follows Take Your Kid to Work Day and Take Your Pet to Work Day.

Kids, pets and parents, in that order. It’s always good to know where you stand.

The husband just showed me a picture of Take Your Parents to Work Day. A room full of 30-somethings are standing around their parents seated in chairs.

Some of them look to be our age. The parents, not the 30-somethings.

Oh, all right, a lot of them look to be our age.


It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in a parent conference at the elementary school. The class had created a book in which each student drew a picture illustrating how they felt about school. Our son had drawn a picture of a shark jumping up out of the water with the teacher’s legs sticking out of the shark’s mouth.

I’ve harbored a deep-seated fear of any event that requires my attendance as a parent ever since.

Plus, there’s something about Take Your Parents to Work Day that seems out of sequence. Maybe it’s because we skipped the Empty Nest phase. Sure, our kids all vacated at the same time for a few months, but then they started returning home for work internships, student teaching or clinical rotations or to buy time between changing apartments. We flew right over the Empty Nest phase and went straight to the Revolving Door phase.

We were a landing strip without the bright lights and control tower.

We knew why they were back. We had storage—the garage, closets, their empty bedrooms—and reasonable rates. Free.

When they all finally left, they married in rapid succession and started having babies. We’re just moving into the Take Your Grandparents to School Day phase of life. We haven’t been to one yet, but we’ve heard about them from friends. You spend the morning in your grandchild’s classroom, fawning over their every adorable move and then the children suddenly go shy and pretend not to know you.

I’m warming to Take Your Parents to Work Day—especially after reading about an aesthetics wellness and beauty company that provided free eyebrow shaping services for parents. We’re all for sharing the perks.

Other companies hosting events are small start-ups that want to credit the parents for raising employees with a sense of adventure. They provide lovely catered lunches and send the parents packing with bulging gift bags.

Our son recently changed jobs. When I asked how it was going, he said he thought the new firm appreciated him.

“In the top 10?” I asked, envisioning my gift bag.

“More like in the top 89,000,” he said. He pulled up the company website showing they employ 90,000 worldwide.

If they ever have a Take Your Parents to Work Day, it’s going to be very, very hard to find us in the group shot.

Drifting in and out of sleep — mostly out

Insomnia is one of the gifts that nature frequently bestows on women over 50. Unfortunately, it’s a gift you can’t return.

Sometimes, if I wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep for an hour, I go ahead and get up at 4 a.m. I’ve always been an early morning person, so it’s not a big deal. The only problem is that I am ready for mid-morning coffee by 7 a.m. and lunch by 10 a.m.

Insomnia isn’t all bad—it sharpens your mental math skills. You lie there wide awake thinking, “If it’s 2 o’clock now and I fall asleep at 3 o’clock and I get up at 6 o’clock, that’s three hours sleep which is one more hour than last night, and on and on. The possibilities are enough to keep you up all night.

The husband has had trouble with sleep, too. He has noted that, on occasion, it has taken him five, maybe six minutes to fall asleep. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone like that.

Plus, once he is asleep, there’s no waking him. I could roll the man out of the bed and onto the floor and he’d not only sleep soundly, but wake up refreshed and not even notice he was on the floor.

A friend suggested that a sound machine can help with insomnia. I asked if she meant the sound machines some of the grandbabies have—the ones with two settings, one that sounds like a heartbeat signaling a pending panic attack, and white noise that sounds like a radio station out of range.

She said no, that they have sound machines for adults, which come with multiple options.

The babbling brook, with water gurgling as it rolls over rocks, was pleasant and restful but it made me want to get up and go hiking.

The sound of rain falling on the roof was relaxing, too, but I kept springing from bed to make sure all the windows were closed.

The sound of thunder was disturbing. It was so realistic I kept listening for warning sirens signaling tornadoes were on the way.

I finally settled on ocean waves. It was wonderful, soothing and calming. I visualized the coastline with the surf lapping at my feet, deep blue skies and boats dotting the horizon. Next thing I knew I was at the computer at 1 a.m. planning a vacation to the coast.

I ditched the sound machine and I’m sleeping better now, thank you.

The key was to hide the digital clock that glows in the dark and to put my cell phone out of reach. If I want to know what time it is so I can start calculating how much sleep I’m not getting, I have to get out of bed to check the time.

Truthfully, I don’t know how much sleep I’m getting, but I wake up more rested not knowing how much sleep I didn’t get. The “keeping myself in the dark” system seems to be working most days.

Except for today.

Today, I’ll be having lunch at 10.

To answer or not to answer, that is the question

We still have a landline. Most of our friends and family routinely call our cell phones, but we keep the old landline because it makes our WiFi cheaper.

AT&T calls it bundling.

We call it hustling.

In any case, because we have been conditioned to run whenever an electronic of any sort rings, beeps, dings, chimes or grunts, we race for the landline three, four, sometimes eight times a day.


It’s not a bad workout even though the doctor insists it does not qualify as aerobics.

It’s like two of Pavlov’s dogs escaped from the behavior conditioning lab, made their way to the U.S. and have been discovered years later living in suburbia. The phone rings, we run. Over and over. Ring, run. Ring, run. Repeat.

Let me be clear—we don’t actually answer the phone, but we do run to it.

We both usually skid to a stop in front of the phone at the same time. Then, we stand there, craning our necks, squinting our eyes—because neither of us ever remembers our glasses—trying to make out what it says on caller ID.

It often appears to be some distant relative calling.

“Looks like UNK NOWN again,” I say. “Has to be on your side. I’ve never had any uncles who go by Unk.”

“I don’t either,” the husband says. “At least not that I’ve known.”

“Say what you want, that Unk is a persistent fellow. I wonder what he wants,” I say.

“The same thing they all want. Money.”

The phone finally quits ringing and we return to our respective corners until the next time it rings.

The calls are a bit of a nuisance, but it does mean a substantial savings on the internet. Besides, we don’t truly mind hanging on to the landline. Not only does it keep us from getting sedentary, we’re thinking it could be our ticket to what financial planners call an income stream in retirement.

I have suggested we charge neighbor kids $5 a pop to see what an old-fashioned landline looks like and $10 if they want to make a call. They can make a call while I swipe their credit card with the Square on my cell phone. I love when old technology converges with the new.

We figure if nothing else, keeping a landline around will give our grands something to talk about when they’re teens.

“Remember that old phone Grandma and Grandpa used to have?”

“Yeah, it was totally opposite of a smart phone – couldn’t take pictures, listen to music, watch videos or leave the house, but when you pushed the buttons they each made a noise.

“And it had some sort of tone when you picked it up? Remember. A mile tone? A file tone?”

“A dial tone!”

“That was it.”

“It was cool, wasn’t it?”

Of course it is. That’s why we keep a landline. Because we’re cool. Well, that and because we’re cheap.

Putting snap, crackle, pop in your family dinner

Our youngest recently had us over for a family meal. Because she worked as an early elementary teacher—and once a teacher always a teacher—she had planned every detail from the menu and the serving dishes to how long we would have for recess.

It was lovely.

But none of us will remember that it was lovely. What we will remember is the exploding ham.

The ham did not explode while we were eating, it exploded later that evening long after the meal was finished. We like to space out our fun and not do all the really neat stuff at one time.

We were home when she called, all out of breath and talking so fast I could hardly understand her. I thought she was yelling, “Don’t eat the ham! Don’t eat the ham!”

When she could talk without hyperventilating, she explained that they warmed up the ham in the microwave and it began sparking and exploding.

She wanted to know if the ham she’d sent home with us sparked, too.

Naturally, I got it out and threw it in the microwave. Five seconds . . . 10 seconds . . . 11 seconds . . . At the 12-second mark it began arcing, shooting sparks and popping like firecrackers. Then I started hyperventilating and shrieking just like she was.

“What’s going on out there?” the husband called from the other room.

He tends to get excited when I torch things in the kitchen, put small burn marks in the microwave and set off the smoke detector, so I calmly said, “Nothing. I’m just warming up your dinner.”

Back on the phone, our daughter wailed, “There’s foil in the ham!”

“There’s no foil in the ham!” I snapped. “Be logical!”

“Then there’s foil in the microwave!” she cried.

“There’s no foil in the microwave!”

“My children ate exploding ham!”

I was silent. That one was true. Her children did eat exploding ham.

“Calm down,” I said. “I’m sure they’re fine. But all the same, keep them away from the microwave.”

I raced to Google to inquire why ham might explode in the microwave.

The first nugget I found said the problem was that we had not removed all the buckshot.

Not helpful.

Another post on exploding ham was from a man who was making himself a ham sandwich with mayo and Doritos. He warmed up the ham in the microwave and said it went off like mini-bombs, roughed up the edges and blew holes in the middle.

What caused it?

His post didn’t say, but he did say the sandwich was very good.

I also found articles advising people not to microwave non-food items, clothing, things with shells, eggs and blue cheese.

Thanks, people.

The most credible post cited a Purdue University food engineer who said dense food that is mineral rich can generate sparks in the electric field of a microwave. Ham is mineral rich with salt.

I called our daughter back and explained the most plausible theory.

“Are you calmed down?” I asked.

“Sort of.”

“What are you doing?”

“Watching my husband eat the ham. What’s Dad doing?”

“Eating the ham.”

Some of us are more likely to spark than others.

This baby is berry, berry special

Our youngest is having another baby and I’m weirded out.

Not about the baby. We’re thrilled and excited about the baby. Couldn’t be happier. It will be grandbaby number 11.

It’s our daughter having the baby who is the concern.

She’s not one of those people who lives on her phone, but she does seem to have an app for everything. She even has a pregnancy app that tracks the baby’s growth.

Lovely, right? Of course.

What could be more beautiful than knowing the size of the new life growing within?

Except it doesn’t track the baby in inches, or centimeters, or ounces, or pounds.

It tracks the baby in fruit. Yes. Fruit.


She keeps sending these disconcerting emails, “This week our baby is the size of a Maine blueberry.”

I love Maine and I love Maine blueberries. They are the absolutely best blueberries to bake with. And now, I’ll probably never eat another one.

The next week I got a notification saying, “Baby is now the size of a wee raspberry.” Raspberries are my second favorite fruit after blueberries. At least they used to be.

The week after that, the baby was the size of a southern pecan.

It’s one thing to mess with fruits, but pecans? That is flat out nuts.

I called her up and asked her to stop.

“Stop what?”

“Stop ruining food for me with the baby tracker emails. You’re not growing a fruit salad, you’re growing a baby and, in the meantime, the food trackers are making me nauseous.”

“Not a problem,” she said. “I can also chart the baby’s growth with vegetables—Brussels sprout, bok choy, corn on the cob, cabbage and eggplant.”

“You just ruined any remote possibility I ever had of going vegan.”

“The app can also be set to track the baby in relation to desserts. I tried that but one week it said Charlotte royale and I had no idea what that was.”

“You are on dangerous mounds of meringue messing with desserts.” I said.

“They also have animals. This week the baby is the size of a guinea pig, then next week a chinchilla, then a prairie dog.”

“Stop, just stop.”

“Wait. There’s one more option. I can track baby growth in objects” she says. “This week the baby is the size of a paper airplane. Next week it will be the size of a baseball cap, then a water bottle, then a Barbie doll.”

“You realize that makes no sense, right? How can a baby go from the size of a paper airplane to a baseball cap?”

“I think the cap is rolled up.”

“Oh, I guess that does makes sense. Listen, you’re ruining fruits, vegetables, small furry animals and ball caps, but before I block your emails, what fruit is week 40?”

“Watermelon.”

I should have seen that one coming.