Thursday, May 5, 2016

Zoe vs. Take Your Child to (Your Dickensian) Work Day

Treats of the place where Zoe's mother works, and of the circumstances attending Zoe's visit on Take Your Child to Work Day.
Among other skyscrapers in a certain metropolis, one I will refrain from mentioning, there is one particular to these environs which makes frequent appearance on picture postcards, and which many a visitor stands before for portraits due to its remarkable shape, to wit, a triangular office building; and in this office building was, last week, on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, as the exact date can be of no consequence to the reader, the event referenced in this diary entry's title, to wit, again, Take Your Child to Work Day.

For a long time after Zoe's mother signed her daughter up for this event, the wretched woman envisioned sorrow and trouble, and it remained a matter of considerable doubt in this pitiable lady's mind whether the child would or, more likely, would not behave, in which latter case, though the mother would be much beset with tremors and pains about the head, she would yet be furnished material for her blog.
Girl and mother arrived on the date in question in much haste, having met with those various and sundry inconveniences which are particular to the city's public transport system.
The day's programme began with a so-called Welcome Breakfast. Hale and hearty children gathered round a conference table, plying themselves with cakes and sweets, not an Oliver Twist in the bunch. Beside them their guardians, backs permanently bent from their labours, many of their brows furrowed beneath spectacles, imbibed that fortifying beverage so conducive to the average adult's functioning.
Soon after, the workday began, during which these innocents were to be led around the building and pressed into service. What burdens would be placed on these youthful shoulders? What degradations would they be subjected to? As a publishing house, would the proprietary interests undertake to harness this cheap labour and task these small hands to swab ink and clear paper from the winches of some Great Printing Machine that surely belched murky smoke somewhere out of sight, say, in the building's basement?
But this eventuality was avoided, for everything today is accomplished via digital engines and other thingamabobs. So instead the establishment presented the children with colouring books and crayons. The fiends!
For the first session the children were asked a question no Victorian-era foundling had ever been asked. "What would you like to be when you grow up?" Of course, it was little use to ask a poor Victorian child this question as their answer would most likely have been, "You mean if I survive to adulthood?"
In contrast, today's children, exposed to a grueling nine-to-five (by law) workday at a publishing house, were forced to write and illustrate a book about their prospective future vocation.
The child Zoe said, "A veterinarian." When pressed to come up with a title for her book she called it: "Veterinarian. By Zoe."

I added "Zoe is a" which she half-erased. And note
that her dedicating it to "mommy" was under duress
as at first she wanted to dedicate it to herself.

At the next session she was to make a cover for her book. Her mother inwardly grieved, fully expecting that her precious darling would now be exposed to the fumes of industrial strength adhesives but, huzzah!, this process was electronical too, using something called Adobe Creative Suite.
Thinking this a favourable moment the mother returned to her dark hole of a work space (the sun was on the other side of the building), where the window could not open (because there was an AC in it), to do some work.
Alas, as if she truly were a Victorian child without options, Zoe chose the first picture of a cat she saw and slapped it on the cover. This, from a child who never drew a picture of an animal that was not some sort of Frankenstein creation with horns and wings in colors unnatural and locations obscene. Nay, this time, and this time only: Orange cat, please! and done. And so the child was returned to her mother, who in the intervening two minutes had answered exactly one email.


After lunch, where Zoe went without, by choice, because although hearty fare was provided in abundance she claimed a lack of hunger, probably because of her constant snacking on tiny orange biscuits in the shape of fish, she would take juice, though; however, as I was saying, after lunch the children were called up one by one. Was this to be a public flogging in front of their peers? A humiliating catalog of their weaknesses and faults? It was not. Instead, it was time for the children to promote and market their books, an inordinate number of which featured cats.
Following that they were lined up and brought to a conference room where there was a table covered with coffee filters, various dyes, and pipe cleaners. Surely the materials for the most grueling sort of child labour! But first they were treated to a view from the point of the building, presumably a merciful respite before being forced to toil until dark for a scrap of bread and a moth-eaten blanket.
Then, most happy surprise! The items on the table were the foundational elements for an art and craft. In short: Reader, they made butterflies.
The day's programme ended with a launch party and snacks. Zoe gobbled creme-filled chocolate biscuits, followed by jelly-like candies, then said, "Please, mother, may I have some more?" and her mother said, "Oh, sure, now you're hungry because it's candy and cookies, right?" And yet she capitulated, the burdens and cares of the day having beaten the wretch down.
It was 3 p.m., and the children's day was done. Their guardians still had two hours of work. They guided from the room their children, tiny faces dirty, hair plastered to foreheads due to unsanctioned and unnecessary dancing, hands covered in various dyes and marker residue, evidence of their grueling encounters with Art and Craft.

Not one of these statements is true.

Girl and woman returned to the mother's workhole, where the child commandeered the desk chair, for it had wheels, and swiveled, while the mother was left the hard guest chair, which had no wheels, and did not swivel.
Perhaps the child would like to colour while the mother worked? This being acceptable, the child requested a pink marker. But the mother had none. How about a pencil? She had: blue, green, vermillion, scarlet red, carmine red (a shade unparalleled in this narrator's opinion), lavender, rose, brown, and regular graphite no. 2 pencils. No pink markers.
The child's frown deepened. Her lower lip trembled. How she writhed in agony 'neath the yoke of this limit to her artistic integrity! Now how would she colour in Elsa's face? What child had ever suffered more in fiction or real life?
Would the mother get any work done now? Alas, twas too great an expectation.

Zoe: 134; Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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