Everyone Hates Take Your Child to Work Day for the Wrong ReasonS

School districts annually admonish Take Your Child to Work Day as disruptive to education. They're missing the point: This holiday sucks because the only thing more boring than their schools is your job.

Sometimes large companies have scheduled activities for Take Your Child to Work Day. From my Minnesotan youth I vividly recall that kids whose parents worked at Target HQ would spend the day frittering away Monopoly money at a mini-Target stocked with candy, toys, and CDs; this exercise was to teach them the art of money management. (In truth, pretend money exercises miss the point. You learn to manage money as soon as it is made "real" to you by threat of eviction.) This is a TYCTW that kids would actually like. But most children who get taken to work end up sitting in a swivel chair, wheeling vacantly around the room while Mom manipulates a spreadsheet. Or listlessly shuffling manila folders while Dad's secretary tries frantically to think of entertaining tasks. Kids don't want to do this.

They do, of course, want to skip school. And it feels special to venture into the world of grown-ups. But this is the wrong way to do it! If you want to motivate your child to think about her career, do not take her to a realistic work environment, unless you work in one of the following fields:

  • Taste tester of ice cream
  • National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence
  • Water Slide Quality Control Consultant
  • Pilot (Must let sit on lap and steer.)
  • President of the United States of America, because the title is big enough a thrill
  • Porn director (Sexually desperate late-teens only. If they're too young it'll scare them into vows of celibacy.)
  • Video game tester

From my childhood I also recall the daughter of an elementary school teacher who, once a year, ditched her school to come to ours. This neatly encapsulates this holiday's perplexing pointlessness: Unless your workplace really awesome or your child really wants the same job you have, you're just shifting the venue for her daily wish-I-was-somewhere-else-ing. Instead, why not teach her a valuable lesson about the art of playing hooky: Don't waste it on anything that isn't fun. [NYDN]