Charlie work for parents.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of Charlie work, it originated on an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and refers to the crappy jobs that no one wants to do–like cleaning toilets.

As parents, there are endless rewards and inspiring moments, and you can read all about them in a stack of Hallmark cards, or in one of those Chicken Soup-y books.

Then, there are the boring moments, like when your child is not quite sick enough–when pulling the shades and administrating tylenol is not sufficient–and you are forced to read Rainbow Magic Fairy books aloud all day long.

What remains after all the inspiration and the boredom is the Charlie work.  This category includes diaper duty, of course, but the bad jobs continue long past potty-training days.  Here’s the very tip top of my current list of Charlie work for parents.  Feel free to add to my list.

Attending assemblies.  Weirdly, I’ve heard some parents dig these.  I don’t know why.  They are always scheduled smack in the middle of the day, so you get to hunt for parking at drop off, pick up, AND assembly, but don’t have time to do anything useful in between except lament having to go.  You are funneled into a malodorous multi-purpose room, where the floor clings to your shoes with the lingering remains of corn dogs and barf.  Time to choose:  scrunch onto the end of one of those long clammy tables, or duel for one of the last rusty folding chairs in the back?   Choose wisely, because assemblies start late–REALLY late–providing ample time to reflect on “chicken fried steak” and canned peas.  An eternity passes.

The room swells with more and more children that are NOT YOURS and are consequently far less tolerable.  Someone is being gleefully squashed by their neighbors on the bench.  As the collisions escalate, crying starts, triggering an endless lecture.  Someone is making fart noises, and at least one or two small people have a sticky appendage lodged in a nostril at any given moment.  Make a mental note to use hand sanitizer at the next opportunity.  At last, the Principal waves awkwardly, taps the shrieking microphone, and makes the sign for “silent fox.”

Ears open; mouth closed.

The show commences.

Time grinds to a halt while everyone else’s kids do impossibly boring things that you can’t hear anyway. Then, when your own darling child finally lurches onto stage and does the most amazing thing ever, some asshole with a ten-inch lens elbows you out of the way and you miss the shot.

I’d like to see a greeting card for that mess.



Published by

Beret Olsen

Writer, photographer, teacher, and part-time insomniac.

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