Leaving Your Kid For A Business TripJoel Stein
I am away from my son on a business trip, and I’m not happy about it.
Except I’m a little happy about it.
Mostly, I feel guilty that my lovely wife Cassandra has to do all the work for three days. I normally get Laszlo ready in the morning before she drives him to school. At night, I make dinner, give him a bath and read him a book. Now she has to figure out how to do all that stuff while getting herself ready in the morning. She has to keep a three-year old away from knives and fire while she cooks. Which means he’ll be watching TV. And they’ll be ordering in. Which I feel guilty about.
But not so guilty I won’t enjoy expensing a really expensive meal.
I’ll call Laszlo and he’ll ask me if I had dinner, which he worries about. I think he can’t imagine that things happen when he’s not around. Or how sweet corporate expense accounts are. Trust me, buddy, the one thing you don’t have to worry about is my dinner.
Sometimes Laszlo cries when I leave and I feel awful, like I’m adding instability and confusion to his life. And worse yet, I’m sending the message that his mom is his real caretaker, and I’m just her fun helper friend.
But I can sleep in.
I try to Skype with him during the day, but it turns out Skype Me is incredibly boring. Skype Me can’t play with trains. Skype Me can’t wrestle. Skype Me is exactly as exciting to him as a guy on Meet the Press. I hear Skype Me saying inane things I would never say, such as “What did you do at school today?” Laszlo has the decency to totally ignore these questions.
And even though I try to keep the trips short no more than three days if I can help it there are times when I come back and he’s changed. Like everything else, growing up isn’t a smooth linear progression. It’s all plateaus and jumps, and sometimes I come back and he’s jumped a level of maturity his sentences more complicated, the way he walks a little less penguin-like.
But I need these breaks. I wish I didn’t. Just like I wish that when I’m playing trains with Laszlo I didn’t need to hope he’ll get fully engrossed so I can take a break and look at email on my phone. And then twitter. And baseball scores. And the news. And Facebook. And then my email again.
But I am weak.
I will be stronger from now on. I will find a way to take fewer business trips. Because I regret what I’ve missed. And I want to be a better husband.
But I’m not giving all my trips up. Because sometimes it’s really nice to miss my son. Especially when I miss him over a really expensive bottle of wine.
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