Bedtime is kind of my thing in our household. At first, it was because my husband worked nights and I was the “night-night parent” by default; now, I generally start the routine, hand off one freshly bathed small child to Daddy, and put the other small child to bed before making the rounds with the big three (who are old enough to get ready for bed on their own but still want — or, at least, allow — me to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight; they’ll be parents themselves before they understand how grateful I am for this).
Recently, after I’ve put our 3-year-old to bed and settled in with her for a cuddle, she’s been turning to me and saying, very seriously, “Mama. I can’t go to sleep right now. I have work to do.”
“Really, Sweetie? What work?”
She looks at me like she can’t believe she has to explain it to me.
“Mama. I have to work. On my laptop.”
The first few times she said this, my heart broke. Do I say it that often? Does she think that I use work as an excuse to rush out of her bedroom? Do the big kids think that, too? Am I putting my career ahead of my family?
Then I realized that, not only is it a bit of a stalling tactic (what 3-year-old really wants to go to bed at bedtime — especially when the older members of the household are still up and about?), it’s also a bit of a compliment. To her, my work is important — important enough to stay up for. The fact that I log on to a computer and “go to work” again after she goes to bed is completely normal, in her mind. I’ve been doing it her whole life; it’s all she knows.
She’s a little unsure of what I actually do on my laptop, though. “You do typing,” she said, when I asked her about it. “You write emails. You are very busy.” She thought about it for a minute. “Maybe sometimes you play Dora.”
Which is, of course, the work she would like to do on my laptop, instead of going to bed.
What do your kids think you do for work?