Despite countless posts about being burnt out because I had said yes too much to too many things, a few weeks back, I decided to take my niece to Take Your Children to Work Day. As soon as I heard about it, I asked my sister, and she said that it was actually perfect. My mom was excited as well. I was volunteering to do something nice on behalf of my niece and sister. I do think it is really important to expose children to different kinds of opportunity early, so it felt like one small act I could do to encourage her to consider a world different from that of her mother and grandmother.
Yesterday after work, I packed my bag and went over to my mom's. Sleeping was difficult. It was too hot and too crowded in my mom's small apartment. I woke up feeling groggy and not at all prepared for the day, but I got up and did what I had to do, holding my niece's hand every step of the way. We arrived at the office a bit early, but there were already plenty of children around. I watched my niece have breakfast, and made sure she made it to all of the activities for the day.
I even helped co-lead a programming exercise. I played the role of robot, building peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for children to teach them the importance of specificity when making commands to a computer. It was silly, but a lot of fun, even though some of the children were not engaged. I observed my niece interacting with other children and learned how different we are, and how much she craves friendship. I was also proud that she held her own in a room full of rambunctious boys. She's a sweetheart.
It ended up being a really nice gesture to my sister, and an act of good faith for my mother, who desperately wants my sister and I to get along. It was definitely a decision I made in the spur of the moment, and I recognize that I need to be way less impulsive in my decision making process. In this case, however, I think it was worth it. I learned a lot about niece today, and about what it takes to be a parent. I walked away from this day, exhausted, but with a newfound respect for everyone who raised me. Even a well behaved child presents a lot of work. It really does take a village.