KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Tale of Parenting and Self-Employment from the Low-Tech Days

This tale may resonate with those of you who are self-employed and have small children at home to care for. It's funny to me now, way after the fact.

Back in 1996, I was already self-employed as an editor. A child of mine, who shall be referred to as Toddler here, was in diapers. [Kind readers, please do not reveal Toddler's real name in the comments.] One morning I was editing a book manuscript—I don't remember whether it was fiction or nonfiction—and needed to do some fact-checking using reference works other than the ones I owned. I didn't yet didn't own a computer or cell phone, much less a smartphone, so I couldn't do Internet searches for the information I needed. That meant a trip to the library.

Did I want to take Toddler with me? No, Toddler would be bored because the reference section was nowhere near the children's section of the library. What to do? Brilliant idea: leave Toddler with my father-in-law, who at the time was a jazz-and-blues musician who worked nights, so both Toddler and I would be happy during the 30 minutes or so when I was at the library. Father-in-Law agreed, so I left him with Toddler and some of Toddler's toys.

I did my research at the library, and I returned home, thinking how happy the book manuscript's author and acquisition editor would be with the thoroughness of my fact-checking. I went to the downstairs apartment within my home, where my in-laws live and where Father-in-Law was taking care of Toddler.

I opened the door, and there stood Toddler, wearing a disposable diaper that was secured on each side with silver duct tape. I found that very odd. How had the duct tape gotten there?

I had forgotten to leave Father-in-Law with extra diapers, so when Toddler filled up his diaper, as toddlers will do, Father-in-Law improvised. He removed the diaper, disposed of its contents, put it back on Toddler, and used duct tape to secure it because he couldn't get the diaper's adhesive strips, put in place by the diaper's manufacturer, to work.

And that happened because I had no cell phone on which Father-in-Law could have called me to request clean diapers.

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