Summer vacation is finally here, no more schools till 6pm for my kids thus both of them (9 & 5 yrs old) are staying at home. Unfortunately for me, I have no one else to leave them with when I will be working in my lab. My husband is “busy” (or pretending to be) working in his lab, thus can’t be disturbed. So I have no choice but to bring my kids over at work with me.
The first time was a disaster. I had no problem with my eldest daughter though. With laptop and headphones, there she was quietly playing games with Dora or Sponge Bob. I got headaches with the younger daughter. She easily got bored with games and movies. She wanted to play actively, like running or crawling or jumping all around. Before bringing them at work, my daughters fully agreed and promised me to behave well. But lo, after observing them in the lab for a while, I then realized the 5-yr old can’t keep any promises (I'm doomed I know!). So to keep a good eye on her - keeping her from breaking any glass wares or from tasting toxic chemicals, I brought her with me wherever I was working, may it be in the office, or in the lab, or in the next door lab.
While I was busy mixing some chemical buffers, there she was, still sitting on her assigned high chair but was busy tapping the ELISA reader machine as if it was some computer keyboard. I asked her to stop and moved her chair away from any reachable fragile stuff. I dragged her chair towards the middle of the aisle. But when I got busy again, I heard the same tapping noise again, just in time when my professor came in the room and caught her in the act. I was so embarrassed and mortified.
I told my little girl to sit still in her chair as I got busy preparing antibiotic samples for CE analysis, which she reluctantly did. However, the moment I got engrossed with my work, she was gone. I found her sitting in the office with her sister complaining that she’s tired and sleepy. My labmate was kind enough to give her a pillow and blanket to sleep with on top of the desk. But alas, this just gave her an idea for her next stunt. She went up in the desk then jumped down onto the floor like some power puff girl. I came in with my professor just in time she was enacting her second stunt. I was so embarrassed.
my chemical filled laboratory
To further restrain her, I brought her with me to the Capillary Electrophoresis room, gave her a pen and paper to get busy with and to practice her writing skills. While I got busy keying in methods for analysis, she also got busy writing all over the pearly white desks in that lab, not with a pencil but with a purple marking pen that she somehow smuggled from some corner of the room. Now I am on the verge of crying. My husband came in to my rescue but not until 6:00 pm. He gladly brought them home with him while I got busy cleaning up the mess my daughter left behind. Thank goodness we have good bleach in the lab to wipe out all her vandalism and sense of art.
For two weeks they stayed with me in the lab and for that two weeks, my cute 5-year old little rascal never failed to exhaust me, pushing me to the edge of my sanity. She never took her promises seriously nor my pleads nor my threats. She always slipped quietly from her chair and out of my sight. We brought their toys over to play with but she always got bored easily. We brought all sorts of snacks to keep her busy but she’s not that interested. She preferred running around with paper towels and pretending to be some winged cartoon character in the midst of my chemical-filled laboratory. One time, I bargained with my husband to take the little girl with him in his lab so I could concentrate on my work. Oh, that was the best day ever for me. Indeed, my little girl was well-behaved with her father around. But while he was in the middle of bacterial isolation experiment, she blurted out that she needed to pee and few seconds later, she urinated on the floor, much to his embarrassment. Ahhh, those two weeks at work were a nightmare. Thank goodness it’s over.
My professor asked me if I wanted to work full-time in his lab this summer. As tempting as the salary can be, but at the cost of my sanity and my daughters’ well-being, I declined the offer. I preferred to stay at home and be a mom for once, to enjoy the vacation with my kids, and to simply play in the park or bring them somewhere else special and fun.