Thursday, January 25, 2007

Daddy/Daughter Work Day

This morning I was in the den checking e-mail and paying some bills when I heard Diane call me from the family room, "Hey Hon?" We've been together for 20 years. I know this call. This is the "I-have-a-big-favor-to-ask-you" call.

"Yeah?" I moaned.

"I have a haircut appointment at six o'clock..."


"...and mom wasn't feeling very well last night..."


"He sounds kinda mean," Kyra chimed in.

"Yeah, he does," Diane agreed. "Could I drop one of the girls off with you at work while I get my hair cut? I can handle one, but I'm not so sure about two."

Hmmmm. Daddy/Daughter work day? That didn't sound too bad. "Sure."

I work at a television station where I'm responsible for airing local news as well as syndicated and network programming. There are a lot of buttons. Rows and rows of buttons. Buttons for switchers, and buttons for satellite dishes, and buttons for tape decks, and buttons for servers, and buttons for tuners, and buttons for cameras, and buttons for scopes, and buttons for routers. I am, in short, a "button-pusher". The girls have visited me at work several times in the past, and they know they are not allowed to touch ANYTHING. And they have shown me that they are able to behave while at the station. So I was excited about having one of them with me at work.

It turned out to be Kailey. My cell phone rang after the 5:00 PM newscast. I went to the back door and there she was, holding a duffle bag of stuff that seemed to weigh as much as she did. I opened the door and she shuffled in. She had a grin that ran the width of her face. So did I. I took the bag and we headed back to the control room.

We had a great time. I took her into the news studio and introduced her to the camera operators and the chief meteorologist. We returned to the control room and I showed her how to check the levels on the studio cameras, letting her adjust the picture and change it from dark to light. She thought that was pretty cool.

During the 6:00 newscast, she settled in with a comic book and had an interesting conversation with one of our engineers. I couldn't help but laugh as she explained to him in vivid detail the very specific procedures for tomorrow's spelling test. She seemed WAY too grown up.

After the newscast I put her to work and made her earn her keep. I had her roll a couple of commercial breaks, superimpose the time and temperature graphic over local programming, and roll the backup video for our primetime programming. I let her push A LOT of buttons, and she was loving it. So was I. Kailey and I don't get to have much one-on-one time, so I think this was a special time for both of us.

Once we got into primetime, I pulled out her spelling words and helped her study for her spelling test. She was working on "information" (is it me, or is that crazy for a 2nd grader?) when I noticed something. "Are you wearing makeup?"

She looked up at me and smiled. Her face looked a little darker than normal, but I thought it was just because we were in the darkened control room. Now that I had positioned her under a light, I clearly saw the makeup. She had foundation caked all over her face. "Did you do this, or did Mommy?"

"I did it," she said proudly. Apparently she wanted to look pretty for Daddy/Daughter work day. "Mommy wiped some of it off with a kleenex, though." Not enough. I laughed and grabbed a tissue to work off a little more of the makeup, and we went back to work on the spelling words. Kailey had a little trouble with "information" but eventually got it down. She's a good speller.

Diane arrived a few minutes later, and Daddy/Daughter Work Day came to an end. It was late, but I was sad to see them go. Times like this make me so proud as a dad that I can literally feel my heart swell. I am proud of how well Kailey behaved and composed herself at the station. I am proud of the way she interacted with my coworkers. And, most of all, I am proud of the way she beamed with pride each time she completed an assigned task. Every parent loves to see their children try new things and succeed. Scratch that...most of the time parents are (or should be) content just to see their kids try new things. The bonus is to see them succeed. Tonight was a bonus night.

As they were leaving, Kyra had the distinct feeling that she had gotten the short end of the stick, so she offered a suggestion, "Maybe next time Kailey can go with Mommy and I can stay with Daddy." That'd be OK by me.

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