Sometimes A Week Is a Long Time

Laugh if you want, but a week is a long time to be away from home these days.  I didn’t think so in my previous (pre-kids) life.  But now, I miss those little messy faces, those laughs, even that sound of “Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy” 45 times a day.

(And yes, I miss my husband too.  I’m sappy like that.)

A week is also a long time to sit through meetings. 

No, correction.  It’s a ridiculously long-ass time to sit through meetings.

To be honest, I have not technically been in meetings for a full week.  I had a little fun trip on the side before the work part of my travels began (see here), and now that seems like a decade ago.  You know why?  Because I just spent three consecutive days sitting in a conference room with 30 other people for nine hours.  The discussion, the analyses, the PowerPoint decks, the small talk in between.  And then the mandatory team dinners.  By this afternoon, I felt like my spinal column was going to collapse into itself if one more person uttered one more word or showed one more PowerPoint slide in that conference room.  They’re all very nice, but it was massive overload.  It’s going to take a while to regain sensation in my brain.

A week is also a long time not to have personal email access in any reliable or consistent manner.  I’m sure that many smarter people than I have found a quick and easy way to use their iPhones abroad without incurring huge roaming fees, but let’s say it’s not intuitive, at a minimum.  Anyway, this isn’t a tech blog — the point is that I’m more than a little addicted to being connected to an email account other than the one in my office — meaning, other than the one that receives messages from those people in the conference room lockdown.

A week is a long time in some good ways too.  It’s a long time not to have to cook, clean, pay bills, do laundry, organize kids’ activities or go grocery shopping for what I invariably forgot on my last trip to the store.  It’s a long time to not race for the train every morning, but instead walk through St James park and past Buckingham Palace to get to and from work every day.  Definitely an improvement over NJ Tranist and the PATH train.

My week is over tomorrow.  Back to the household lists and things to get done.  But I’ll be sprung free of the conference room and I’ll get my email back in order — and I get to see my family.  Then it will feel like it has been forever.

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Boardroom Bingo

It’s one of those days at work where those empty corporate phrases are flying around without mercy.  You know, when people talk like a Power Point deck.

In the elevator this morning, I heard two self-important guys discussing “the opportunities to realize our synergies and gain greater efficiencies.”  Seriously.

Uh, you mean, get your teams together? 

Then, at a meeting, someone asked me if I would “own the construct of the phraseology.” 

So you want me to write the memo? 

Or shall we brainstorm it first and then do a deep dive?  Then I could identify all of the key watch-outs and put the learnings into buckets before I circle back.  That would allow me to level set so that we’ll all be able to hit the ground running and optimize our resources.

Then we can all go back to BAU (business as usual).

What corporate lingo drives you bananas?

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First Day of Pre-School

Glad to report that everything went as well as it could have.  For me, that meant no tantrums, no potty accidents and the inclusion of a train table in the classroom.  Score.

I was nervous about this transition, only because it’s one of many that we’ve thrown at my son over the last few months .  Along with the move itself came the last new school, a nanny in our house for the baby, etc.  And he’s just not great with change.  This is a kid who has been in full-time day care since the age of 4 months, so the anxiety wasn’t about him being away from home during the day.  It was having to explain that this was “a different new school” after he was still getting used to the day care place we had used for the last 5 months since our move to the burbs.  And that was my struggle — I just didn’t love that last place but wondered if we should move him again and have him deal with another transition.  Financially, it was just ridiculous to go on paying for full time day care *and* a nanny (for our 1 year old) — but it was where we could place him at the time we moved and I didn’t want him just sitting home all day.  The boy needs to burn his energy with other like-minded 3 year old maniacs.  Dirt.  Trains.  Running.  Running faster.  Spitting.  More trains. All that good stuff.  So, anyway, the day care was fine for a few months until the school year started — and that bought us more time to potty train for pre-school…in theory…let’s file that under “ongoing challenges that I’m told one day will pass.” 

So there was a lot of chat in the house for the last week or so about the new school.  We drove him past it a few times, let him see the nice flag outside with the teddy bear (he liked that).  We read the letter together from his teachers last week, letting him know how excited they were to meet him (indifference).  We went shopping for a new lunch bag but, always late to the game on these things, found only barren shelves in the Back to School section of Target.  Oops.  (But I did get some other great items that day…)

And then yesterday, I worked from home so that I could bring him for the big first day.  I kept talking it up but the kid is on to me, kind of mentally raising one eyebrow at my over the top enthusiasm, as if to say “Lady, take it down a notch.  You’re not fooling anyone.”

He got a little dressed up for the occasion.  I kind of thought he looked like he was off to work (maybe at some hip web developer internship or something).

I left my usual 5 minutes to arrive somewhere that is 5 minutes away.  Not smart.  Let’s just say I vastly underestimated the flashmob that “First Day of Preschool” means in our new town.  The kids were really decked out.  They all had sweet looking backpacks (Oops — do we need one?  He’s only 3.  I guess I’ll repurpose the Thomas one at home that is used for train storage).  They all had both parents with them (Shit.  Called P — we both felt bad — and then quickly justified with “Yeah but he’s been going to day care forever — this isn’t his first time off to school.”).  Oh and some had grandparents there too for the big event.  Lots of pictures everywhere (Check.  At least I brought my camera.) — we waited in line to take the requisite shot in front of the pre-school sign.

So, because all of town was there, and all in their large SUVs, the place was crazy.  No parking anywhere.  Swarms of families.  A total zoo.  My nanny was in the passenger seat checking out the routine and kept saying nervously “Please tell me it’s not like this all the time,” undoubtedly imagining herself toting my 1 year-old through this exercise twice a day.

We went inside, my son’s hand in mine, and he was fine — covered his ears a bit, which is his new nervous response to any uncertain situation — but seemed genuinely curious.  We found the appointed Teddy Bear room (Really?  Do we have to do this as parents?  “Oh my son is in AM Teddy Bears.”  So awkward.  How about Room 202?)

The moment I saw the train table in the classroom, I knew he’d be fine.  Amen.

He refused to wear his name tag around his neck (no surprise there) but, being the day care veteran that he is, immediately demanded an inspection of his cubby’s location.  We checked it out and he approved.  Back to the train table.  I watched from afar and wondered how long it was going to take for him to move from happy about this to annoyed that it did not have all of his preferred engines in place.  It took about 2 minutes (“But they don’t even have Percy.  Where are all of the engines and their coal tenders?”). 

But he was fine and off I went (after showing him again where the potty is, praying that he would not have an accident on Day One).  They only kept him an hour (this will be the case all week) in the morning — so we went home, had lunch, talked about his new friends and more commentary on the lackluster train table — then went back for an hour of the afternoon session.  All the while, I had medium-sized fires popping up at the office and  was begging my assistant to find a way to move a call I’m hosting across 4 countries — “Just buy me 15 minutes so I can pick up my son” — so that I can be there for the end of the school day.  My Blackberry was buzzing, ringing and smoking as I walked into the afternoon classroom (the PM Kittens — again, really?).  And I just wanted so badly, in that moment, to be a stay at home mom who could focus on this one important thing for my son without feeling the possible early warning signs of a stroke as I shuffled work “priorities.”  (More on the SAHM pangs another time). 

But it all worked out, even if I aged 3 years over the course of the day from the running around.  Turned out my son also loved the resident guinea pigs in the classroom.  He asked me where their mommy is and I speculated that maybe she lives in another classroom.  He gave me the “mentally my eyebrow is up” look again and said:  “No.  I don’t fink so.  I fink she’s at work.”  Hm.  My first reaction was how cute that was.  Then I was proud that he thinks of women as working role models (so progressive — oh please, justify much?).  And then I was just plain sad that was his first thought about where someone’s mommy would be.  It bothered me, though the blow was lessened by what he said next:  “But she’ll come see the babies later.  Mommy always comes back.” 

And then he dragged me back in the classroom (now empty) to show me the defects of the train table in detail. 

One more required photo outside (now he’s losing steam) and back home to give the baby a full recap.

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