When my creative son worked as a fifth-grade summer camp counselor, he invented a game. He was in charge of a dozen thirteen-year-old boys around the clock and, hard pressed to keep them occupied until the dinner bell, had them play “Run and Scream”.
The idea was to line up, take a deep breath, and on the count of three, start running… and screaming. You had to run as far as you could until you ran out of scream, then stop. Whoever got the furthest won.
Starting my new job has been just like that.
Every morning my alarm clock reminds me that I now have a schedule to keep, so just lying there being annoyed by the sunlight is no longer an option.
So I get up and pull a Claire and put on white clothes and flat iron my tresses and collect flares for when they chase me with a T Rex later. My high heels are quite zippy.
I have discovered the travesty of eating my oatmeal at 6am, when my tonsils aren’t even awake yet, the horrors of making tea in a Keurig in the lunchroom, and the joys of living off of gummy bears when leaving my desk for a break is not possible.
Time out while we address that:
There is a delicate line that is not to be crossed when choosing to put food in your mouth in this public setting. You must ask yourself some hard questions:
- Is there in any way a smell attached to this snack? Will people get funny looks on their faces and sniff the air? Will it remain on your breath and startle your coworker who needs to look over your shoulder to show you something?
- Is there in any way a sound attached to this snack? Will an awkward silence hit the office, as everyone suddenly peers at their computer screens simultaneously and the sound of your apple crunching echoes from the rafters?
- Are the size of the bites that enter your mouth prohibitive to answering the phone that rings when you bite it? Can it be swallowed whole? Is it choke-proof or will you cough on a granola bar crumb and capsize until tears run down your cheeks while your co-worker answers the line for you?
- Did you cheat and go with a liquid bevmo? Do you see your desk? Millions of little important papers and electronics? If the phone cord wraps around the mug and sends that hot, mediocre tea into your lap instead, will you be okay with that?
- No, let’s just get up for ten minutes, eat our measly leftovers and not realize that spinach, while a healthy alternative to vending machine fare, is not a good look in our teeth for the upcoming staff meeting.
Being a nanny had its challenges, but this job is a whole new ballgame.
Yes, there was running, and yes, there was screaming.
But when you’re a nanny, snacks are a group activity that can take hours if you do it right.
You might still end up with tea in your lap, but it will be freshly brewed and the highest quality.
You will be proud to wear it.
Instead, as a humble servant of the public, I pretend to go snack-less and appear to have no greater goal than to run as fast as I can, screaming at the printer when it doesn’t share my expectations of excellence.
Quietly. I scream quietly.
My coworker is on the phone.
I usually run out of scream around 7pm.
Then I just drop sideways where ever I happen to be at the time, and my family waves their hands in front of my glazed-over eyes, wondering where I went.
Dinner was frozen hotdogs. Laundry was self-serve. The vacuum is actually collecting dust.
Not sure how all you “working moms” have been holding it together all this time, but my hat’s off to you.
Anytime you want to play “Run and Scream” let me know.
But please…tell me there’ll be snacks.