The other day, I had to bring both the Large One and the Small One to the office with me because there was a late notice meeting on one of my telecommuting days that couldn't be rescheduled to another day. It's been a few months since I brought either one of them to work with me and it was interesting to see how things had changed. Their roles of compatibility with the office had completely switched.

The Caterpillar used to be the easy one. For the year+ that I brought her to the office every day, she was just content gated into my office, pulling stuff off my shelves and dropping it onto the ground. This day, however, she whined and teapot screamed and yelled "Momma" every time I had to stick my head around the corner (and we were only there for two hours). I was kind of hoping that when the dude I was meeting with arrived, I could just dump her on the floor of someone's office and they could corral her for a few minutes but she was such a wound up ball of mischief, it became clear that I couldn't do that to one of my colleagues. So I apologized profusely, and ushered the dude along with The Caterpillar into the conference room where I could let her run around under the table and shut the doors, keeping her in a confined space. About two seconds after I closed the door, she chose that moment to soil her diaper and then carried the stench with her everywhere in the room she went. It was a short meeting and he only had a limited amount of time so I didn't want to say, "Excuse me from this business-like meeting while I wipe my daughter's butt" so I kept throwing toys to the other side of the room in hopes that she'd stay far away from him and he wouldn't notice the smell. (You always thought Pig Pen was just dirty, didn't you? You never realized that his whole problem was just that he had a dirty diaper and a lazy momma.) Then she decided she needed my older, business-like companion's full attention and kept bringing him toys to wind up and make noise while we tried to talk. Fortunately, this guy is a a) quite understanding and b) a vendor that I don't really care what kind of impression I make on because he wants our business. I also did explain to him that if we were to meet that day (the only day he was available) it would be a day that I normally telecommute and I'd have to bring my kids into the office. He was fine with it and very forbearing but it was rough just the same and reminded me that I really did make the right choice when I started her in Little Girl School a few months ago. If everyday in the office was like this, I would be bald... because I would have developed an Axis I diagnosis of Trichotillomania. So I am better off. She is better off too because she might, right at this moment, find herself being raised by wolves and living with them in the woods behind my house.

The Dormouse used to be the difficult one in the office: the one who pushed the button and turned off the email server the second I turned my head, the one who couldn't get it through her head that we need to respect the work environment and not yell "Momma" loud enough to rival sound levels of a jet engine, the one who felt the need to go into each and every person's office and rummage around in their belongings. This time I let my computer babysit her and she sat down and played on the Internet (which she still thinks - and I'm only too happy to perpetuate this myth - consists solely of Playhouse Disney - it makes me wonder what she thinks I'm doing on the computer all day at work) the entire time we were there. She was so quiet that when my meeting ended, the vendor said, "I thought you said you brought both your children to work. Where's the other one?" When I wanted to go across the street to pick up something for them to eat before we left The Dormouse said, "You go, Momma, I'll be right here," and I didn't even think twice about leaving her there in my office by herself with my colleagues right down the hall. It gave me hope for the future that one day they would be both able to entertain themselves for more than five minutes at a time... and maybe then I can read a book again.

While we were eating our quesadillas (or if you're The Caterpillar, "pizza" -- she WILL NOT accept that all round food is not pizza these days.) for lunch before getting into the car to head home, The Dormouse accidentally bit her finger, hard. Tears welled up in her eyes as she tried not to yowl out loud and disturb everyone. I motioned for her to come over to me and gave her a hug. I kissed her finger and dried her tears and when she was mostly in control of herself, she started back to her chair at the table. The Caterpillar, who watched all of this while never breaking her hand to mouth eating pace, put her quesadilla piece down and became extremely agitated. She started pointing at The Dormouse, standing up in her chair and yelling, "Meer! Meer! Meer, sissis!" Finally, I figured out she was trying to get The Dormouse to come to her.

So I said, "I think your sister is asking you to come here."

The Dormouse, still drying her tears, walked over to The Caterpillar's chair and The Caterpillar stood up and put her arms around her sister's shoulders, giving her a big bear hug and patting her on the back. This completely lifted The Dormouse from her disconsolation and she hugged back with a smile.

Then The Caterpillar let go, stood up straight and pointed to The Dormouse's lunch plate and said, "Now, EAT!"