By Diane Ako
I had to work slightly later than usual to greet an arriving VIP, and arrived home at 7:30 p.m. one night. Olivia had just been tucked into bed and was trying to stay awake to see me.
I tiptoed into the bedroom to kiss her and her sleepy eyes opened. Though I had prepped her for my lateness, she still gave me the usual grief over not being home earlier to see her.
"Honey, I'm usually home for dinner. Do you know how lucky that is? A lot of mommies and daddies work jobs where they can't do that," I said. I was thinking of all the odd swing shifts at 24-hour organizations, like news, hotels, military, or any number of stores in today's nonstop society. "If I have to stay late some of the time, it's OK, because most of the time, I have regular hours."
That seemed to placate her. She then asked me a really cute question that caught me off guard. "When you work late, do they give you a snack?"
"Well, sure they do. Remember I have the employee cafeteria that I took you to before? Not everyone has a cafeteria, but I'm lucky to work at a place that does," I reminded.
Olivia seemed happy to know her mother wasn't going to starve. (For that matter, I'm happy, too.) "What kind of snack did you have today?" she continued.
Actually, I didn't eat dinner before I left. I just wanted to go home, so lunch was my last meal. We have a zillion junk food snacks in the cubicle office where I sit. I just said what I ate last. "I had spaghetti with bread," I answered.
"What about dessert?" she quizzed. This kid. Priorities!
"I had jello," I said.
"Jello! What color?!" came the slightly more excited response.
"Rainbow," I said.
"RAINBOW?" Olivia exclaimed. It's her favorite. "Why didn't you bring me some?"
I'm a bad mom. It's what she would do for me. She tried to bring home a piece of her popsicle so her father and I could try it. Sweet, huh?
I decided to turn the tables and ask her something. "So. How do you think snack time goes for Mommy? Do you think my boss makes us all sit down quietly to show that we're ready to eat?"
She looked at me like I was ridiculous. "I don't know about work!" she said. Oh. Silly me for asking.