Like many people out of work, I decided to go back to school.
But for me, my return to school was a field trip to a local wildlife museum last week with my six-year old daughter’s kindergarten class.
This was the latest example of something good that can happen when you are out of work -- being involved with the kids' life.
Sure I was involved before, but only when it worked into my schedule.
Well my schedule was wide open last Friday. And if it wasn’t, it would be.
Not even a bus ride with 50 kindergartners was going to keep me from going on this trip. I know it meant a lot to my daughter, but it meant A LOT to me too.
We sat next to each other on the bus.
We toured the Museum together.
We ate lunch together.
We watched a film on Animals, together.
I’ve had some pretty good days in my life, but this was definitely on the list.
Not to mention, what a great distraction from the world of reality.
In the group with my daughter and I were three of her classmates and a mom.
I did my best to mingle with the other six-year-olds, but either the animals were distracting or they just didn’t find me interesting.
Fortunately, the other grown up was a very nice person. A mother of five, who moved to the U.S. from Colombia about 11 years ago.
Her kids range in age from five to 22, so she has pretty much seen it all.
About ten minutes before the end of the tour, I heard the question I somehow hear everyday.
“So what do you for a living?”
Well, she asked the question, so I gave the answer -- as quickly as possible.
That’s when she shared with me that she’s been out of work too, for about a month.
It’s not the first time she’s been unemployed, but it is the first time that she’s not sure if she’s going to be able to find another job.
I know that feeling.
Of course, she also shared the bright side of unemployment, like being able to sleep at night without her cell phone.
Or being able to go on a field trip without texting.
I remember my first month of unemployment. I was pretty optimistic too.
I still try to keep a positive outlook, but once you’ve celebrated your one year anniversary without a job, that’s a lot easier said than done.
Our little talk reminded me that there is no escaping unemployment, not even on a kindergarten field trip, but the rest of the trip was great.
Even the bus ride home.
To keep everyone entertained, my daughter’s teacher asked the kids to search for red cars.
The tally moved from one to 20, pretty quickly.
Then 30, 40, 50, all the way up to 117 as we moved within a mile or so of the school.
My daughter then spotted five red cars in a parking lot, at which point the puzzled teacher said, now how many is that?
My daughter mumbled 117 plus 5, then she shouted...
Oh, that’s right, the teacher said.
Wait a minute, I smell something funny going on here.
We’re not spotting red cars, we are having a math test.
No wonder I was such a bad student.
Not only did I struggle with the questions and answers, but I didn’t even know there was an exam being given.
Well, either way, I think I graduated my latest test as a dad.
And that's all that matters.