Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Babies and Business Don't Mix!

On occasion a client will bring their child to an appointment with me. I don't really like it, but I tolerate it. If the child is quiet and sits still and keeps himself entertained while the parent and I conduct business, all is well. However, that is rare. Most children, in my experience, do not sit quietly. They need snacks and entertainment.

I remember going places with my dad as a little girl. He would sometimes take us to the Co-op or the veterinarian's office. It was kind of a special occasion when we went places with our dad. We knew that we needed to mind our manners and let him work. I loved going to the Co-op because the manager had a huge box of Saf-T-Pops in his office. He would always give us one and we would always politely thank him and save it for later. If we were good while my dad did whatever he had gone to the Co-op to do, he would let us get a pop and candy bar from the vending machine. That was very special.

We probably didn't belong in the Co-op manager's office, but we were darn sure good while we were there. Plus, we were old enough to understand the expectations and follow the rules. We obviously weren't the only children who had ever darkened the Co-op manager's door because he wouldn't have had a giant box of suckers if he didn't expect to see children on occasion. The difference is that we behaved ourselves.

Last week a client brought her son with her for an appointment. I'm not good at estimating children's ages; this little boy was walking, but barely talking. He wasn't old enough to be expected to sit still and entertain himself, so of course he got into things while he was here. He cried when his mother told him to sit still. He ground Goldfish crackers into my guest chair, spilled juice on the floor, and fiddled with things on my desk. He wasn't being naughty. He was just curious.

Today a different client brought her daughter to my office. This little girl was about the same age. She toddled around my office, generally exploring the area. She played with the keys to my desk drawers, she unplugged my computer, and eventually spilled her mother's coffee all over my desk.

First of all, I am amazed at what parents can ignore. It is incredibly distracting to me when a child is wondering around my office, potentially destroying lots of important things. Secondly, I am surprised that they bring children to my office at all. It is obviously not a child friendly environment. In my opinion, if something is to be taken seriously, it deserves your full attention, whether it is your child or your business. When you don't take your responsibilities seriously, it's very difficult for me to take you seriously. I understand that bringing your children with you to boring places like my office is unavoidable, but please don't be surprised when it diminishes the productivity of your meeting.