Gabriel went on his 5th-grade Angel Island Overnight trip yesterday. I dropped him off uber-early at school, wearing his Civil War Re-Enactment "uniform." I'm still kicking myself for not snagging a photo of him in long pants with a red stripe, his backpack, and anticipation-filled smiling face. He looked so grown-up, even as he was embarking on a kids'-school re-enactment.
Gabriel of all kids isn't one a parent need worry about on an overnight trip. I'm proud that we've done enough camping that he's pretty self-sufficient about these things. Unlike most of his classmates, he's slept outdoors, set up a tent, struggled to cram his sleeping bag into its case, dealt with the countless snags of camping.
Of course, that doesn't mean I wasn't a little anxious about him....I thought about him a lot, wondered what he was doing, missed him intensely.
I got home late night and found some Angel Island items tossed onto a table, and had another painful pang of missing my firstborn. I'd talked to him a lot about the trip, bugged him many times to prepare his "uniform," insisted he collect and check off each item he needed, talked to him about the activities, then dropped him off super-early amidst other Civil-War clad 5th-graders. So I was looking forward to seeing him when he returned.
But the current split-week custody arrangement meant that not only didn't I see him when he returned from his trip, but by the time I have his attention again, days will have passed and he'll have moved on. I remember well how cute he looked in his red-stripe uniform, and wonder how the re-enactment activities went, if it was cold and his sweatshirt was warm enough, and how did he do with his injured ankle. But I won't see him until late tomorrow and the new memory will have worn off. I really regret this loss of continuity; kids live so in-the-moment, and these moments are so often lost by a schedule dictated an impartial legal agreement.
Back to grownups....
Everyone always says they're super-busy at work, but lately, I really mean it. Every job had its deadlines, and my job is quite flexible in many ways, but when my job is inflexible, it really is. When I have a training class, or an exam scheduled, there's just no way around that.
(In the work-world context that is -- it's nothing at all like the pressure of raising babies. If you're diagnosed with pneumonia, you cancel the training class and reschedule the exam, but you never ever stop taking care of your baby!)
Recently I had a one-week training class (which I had to miss some of to care of babies), then a crucial exam. In the grander scheme, these vendor exams I have to take are meaningless -- they're not "real" exams like in academia, but rather, "certification" exams that include questions like "what 3 options are available in a such-and-such drop-down menu..." Nothing conceptual, but passing the tough exam is important to my revered employer, to have a certain number of "certified" engineers on staff. So, sure, of course I'll do all I can to make it work, but it is incredibly time and attention-consuming.
I had to summon my "computer virus guy" again to wipe clean an old laptop that, despite following all usual precautions, picked up a virus that completely froze it within 10 minutes of browsing. (Ironically, the exam I just passed, and much of the work-learning I've been doing, surrounds computer and application security.) I could make a whole career out of security if I were so inclined...instead I had to fall in love with a far less lucrative discipline (wireless networking). I attended a talk at a Forum my company hosted this week, that included an interesting comment from a vendor: "We don't try to eliminate security threats, but rather manage them, and make the economics fail for them." Good luck with that. I'm keeping my "virus guy" on speed-dial.
A full weekend is coming up, so please forgive me if I fall behind again!