You may not have children yet and you may be wondering if you are ready. Or you may have children and you are wondering if you are ready. I have come to the conclusion that if you work in an organisation with more than 100 people, then chances are you are more ready than you think. The working world has many similarities to the toddler world. Let’s take the panoptic view:
A while ago I was lying next to my 2 year old, it was well after midnight and he had had a nightmare. As he fell back into a blissful (or not so blissful?) sleep, he started whispering “I don’t like it” over and over again. What made this even more eerie was the fact that he was stroking his blankie while doing so. I can imagine some people at work, also lying in bed at night, whispering “I don’t like it” in a husky voice while stroking perhaps not a blankie but a cat.
Tantrums; we may not all fling ourselves on the floor for a ten minute crescendo of desperation while banging our heads and kicking. But we all have tantrums, be honest. You get silent tantrums and you get talk-about-that-irritating-colleague-in-the-hallway tantrums. Tantrums are a part of the working world, if you can deal with these then you can also step over your screaming child in a busy shopping centre and pretend he is not yours.
As with toddlers, employees at a company also don’t always like the canteen. At home food gets flung far and wide and dogs go running. At work food gets deposited into bins and unhappy chatter ensues. I personally cannot compete with Woolworths anymore, I don’t even try. My chicken with broccoli and white sauce seem to have something fundamentally wrong with it. But I don’t feel so bad anymore because nobody can compete with Woolworths, I’m not alone. You are not alone.
At a gathering a while ago a friend told me of his (male) friend who had graciously allowed his infant to suckle at his nipple. That is, the father of the child allowed his own child to suck his hairy nipple, just to be clear. Apparently this baby would not stop crying and, exhausted, both father and child collapsed in a heap on an armchair. The heroic dad drifted off to sleep, as you are prone to do when you are sleep deprived, and a few minutes (hours?) into this deep sleep he woke to find the child at his breast, literally. The child was silent, he could handle the pain, so why upset the applecart? He let the child be. In a similar way we all make small sacrifices so as not to upset the applecart at work. Your colleague eats tuna in the office – you let it be, fighting it or even talking about it will just be too exhausting and possibly pointless. If you can let things go at work, you will be able to let them go at home too.
The dress code; or not so dress code. Call it what you like – at work, as with toddlers, you will see some interesting combinations and as stated above, it is a pointless exercise to try and change this. My son insists on wearing his crocs everywhere, often with socks and sans pants – free willy style. Hopefully you will not be faced (literally) with genitals of any kind during your stay at the office, but just as you make peace with how people dress at work you will also come to appreciate your toddlers’ unique style. As the people at work, they are just expressing themselves, or whatever.
Snot on the upper lip is my absolute worst. I like to think of our parental team as poop-mom and snot-dad. Together we are strong, but when my husband is not here to wipe snot I’m afraid they mostly just hang / sit there. Or it gets sucked. Apologies for being so graphic, my point is that as toddlers suck snot, people suck up, and the latter is even more disgusting. If you can handle this at work, you will sail through it at home. You might even be able to wipe snot with your bare hands.
In Afrikaans there is a saying “moet nie poep teen donderweer nie”. My Dad says it even better – “hou op skop teen die prikkels”. In the working world, as in toddler world – things just gets a lot easier when you learn to accept. Just always do your best. You cannot control them, no matter how hard you try. In the same way you would keep your eyes focused firmly on that promotion or increase, just keep the focus on the fact that in 7 odd years you will be able to sleep late again (with late I mean anything after 5am). You are more ready than you think…..