When I was a kid, I knew when Dad was home. I could hear his VW Squareback a block away.
“Dad’s home!” I’d shout before running out to meet him.
My three kids don’t do that because I’m always at home. We’re not a typical family, I guess. Mom and Dad don’t go out to work. I do retreat to my sort-of office to work as a reporter on the news out of Argentina and Latin America and to edit and write. I wander into the kitchen to fill up on coffee, water or tea and to get told off for picking at the lunch or a fresh-out-of-the-oven cake. I do go out for interviews and the occasional editorial meeting for an online publication I edit. The rest of the time I’m in the office or helping out around the house – time permitting – to fix toilets, unblock toilets and get the kids dressed and off to school, helping out with homework and breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It’s the kids who go out, the two eldest for now. They go to school. I can hear my seven-year-old daughter’s school bus a block away. They go and then they’re back and us parents are here.
My office is out the kitchen door and across the courtyard garden or down the main hall and through our bedroom and into the garage and hang a left. It’s the first room you run into. My office.
We don’t put the car in the garage. It’s a playroom. The kids love it. There’s room to stretch and invent. A blanket over a couple of chairs becomes a fort and that table over there the enemies’ lair, and in between lies a battle field. Soon the floor resembles the aftermath of a battle with toys everywhere. And when there’s need for more space, it’s to the office. Charge!
They’ll switch the channels on my TV – I watch the news to monitor events – and swift as anything we’re watching Discovery Kids or Disney Channel. Turn it up, turn it up! I could get mad. They watch my TV and use my desk for building a Lego castle and press the button on that noisy toy time and time again, and my keyboard – what a temptation to pound on the keys, just like Daddy! Yes, I could get mad and yell a bit and put them in their place, send them back to the playroom as I interview a politician or a high-flying executive. But I don’t think they’re thinking they need to be quiet just because Dad’s home and busy because, well, Dad’s always home.