It dawned on me, after several embarrassing episodes, that you can’t fire your kids. I’ve decided that in the workplace, you have it infinitely better when it comes to discipline and running a tight ship than you do at home. In the workplace, you have the ultimate option. As a parent, there is no recourse. Your kids are your employees for life.
Example # 1: If one of your employees comes into your office when you’re on an important phone call or conference call and starts to scream at the top of her lungs and demand you get her favorite beverage right at that very second, you’d walk them out the door. Yet, despite all the hand waving, shushing, threatening looks, my five year old has yet to figure out that when Mommy’s cell phone rings and she’s talking on it, it is NOT the time to have a full blown tantrum with stamping feet and tears. It can be quiet, peaceful, and serene, and as soon as my little guy discovers I’m on the phone, he takes the opportunity to exercise his loudest outdoor voice.
Example #2: If one of your employees suddenly decides to strip down and run naked through the office past each and every cubicle yelling “you can’t catch me, you can’t catch me,” you’d have them covered up fast and handed a pink slip (or in more progressive companies, hook them up with the employee assistance hot line for help with a compulsive disrobing disorder.) There’s not much you can do when your child runs bollucky bear-ass through your dining room as you host the PTA fundraising committee. After a few raised eyebrows from the mother’s mafia and a stern talking to a la “we don’t do that,” you’re stuck with the little streaker.
Example #3: You’ve got a big presentation, perhaps the biggest presentation of your career. You’ve been up all night getting the PowerPoint slides, you, and your team ready. Five minutes before you’re supposed to walk out the door, one of your employees decides that she doesn’t like the pants she’s wearing, sits on the office floor, and refuses to budge until you go get her favorite pants. Cool-headed manager you are, you’d probably step over the employee, tell her she’s seriously endangering her career, and walk out the door. However, as a mom, you can’t just leave your five year-old on the kitchen floor when he decides to do this. In order to make it to the presentation, you’ve got to either waste time getting his favorite pants – and setting a horrible example which tells him he can get what he wants by refusing to budge – or wrestle him into the car seat and strap him in (at which time he announces he has to go potty, and the battle begins again.)