Take Your Child To Work Day, Chicago Style

I remember the first take our daughters to work day 20 years ago. I was in high school (Brother Rice), and our sister school Mother McAuley was all about it and people were talking about it on the bus and of course it was all over the news.

Though in various jobs over the years I’ve seen the priority and treatment of children on this day go from enthusiastic and having programs for the children to glorified babysitting to the parents were responsible for their work and their child (which basically meant kids running all over the office), to now at a lot of places its non existant.

For me it was no big deal, granted I’m a guy and I went to work with both of my parents.

My mother was a Chicago Public School elementary teacher and like many students, I went to the school my mother taught at (Paul Revere),  for 6 years (first through sixth grade), in the 80’s, so EVERYDAY was take your kid to work day.

I sat in meetings, sometimes waited in the school office but mostly was in her classroom, before and after class and I did school work or read the Sun Times while she did lesson plans and other work.
I got to see the other side of my mother and all the crap she went through including several teacher strikes (and several close calls), during that time. Most of her friends were faculty there but they kept a close eye on me.

But we all got educated during that time and children should see their parents in the professional life, its rounds out the parents’ personality and gives kids insight to what they go through to bring home the bacon and keep the lights on.

Now my dad was a mechanic for the CTA, he was a mobile mechanic and his territory was most of the south side. He had his CTA issued van and in the summer I would ride with him starting when I was about 10 until junior high when he wasn’t cool anymore.

It was a different experience with him because it wasn’t everyday and he had way more leeway in his job. His position was envious among his co-workers stuck in the 77th Street, Beverly or 103rd Street garages but he had worked up to that position from a bus cleaner in his younger days.

But I got to see my father in how he dealt with the public, bus drivers, supervisors and other mechanics (most whom were good friends of his), and no matter how fun he made the job seem, it was work. It was fast paced and he was good at it. It was inspiring to see him leap into action to fix a bus and be part of the expansive transit system. He took a lot of pride in that.

Funny, I didn’t follow in either of my parents footsteps but I’m a different person than them. Though with my mother she specifically told me not to be a CPS teacher, despite we were a teaching family.
But I had seen plenty in the six years I attended her school, I saw good teachers spend their own money and time to have a decent classroom and make education happen for those south shore students yet get no recognition from the administration.

I saw good teachers burn out, give up or quit and a revolving door of administration that in later years was only concerned about test scores when the school was in the inner city and gangs and violence were a much more real issue to the rest of us.

I saw a school system that seemed to let mediocre students & teachers slide by for way too long and then the strike of 1987 hit (the last strike they have had), and how that changed everything because that labor strife showed  the flaws of that system which I don’t know if it’s any different now.

My parents gave me insight to the world of real work and I’m grateful to my parents for taking that time to show me the ropes and their other side and I would make sure any offspring of mine would see daddy at work.

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