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Excited to say that I, Russell Peterson aka DayParentDad, was featured today in the Financial Times of London as an at home dad who has successfully returned to work.
According to Emma Jacobs, the author of When stay-at-home fathers rejoin the work force
, “Architect Russell Peterson used to say that waiting at tables and cleaning a combine harvester were the hardest jobs he had ever done. Then he became a stay-at-home dad. ‘It far outstrips those,’ he laughs. ‘It’s a tough job.’”
In the article, Mr. Peterson goes on to say that after selling his successful architecture firm and staying home for 16 years with his children, it was almost impossible to get an interview at a firm. He said, “One of the biggest areas of discrimination,” he says, “is towards dads coming back to work.”
Ms. Jacobs concludes the article with, “Despite the difficulties, Mr. Peterson maintains that the experience of being a stay-at-home dad was valuable not just to his family but also his work, improving his understanding of how people relate to the built environment.”
Being an at home dad has made me a better architect.
PHOTO | Preus Musum Norway
Both of my children have worked since they were very young. I tried to teach them lessons of hard work, value and respect. They have been babysitters, models and dance teachers. As things go not everything turns out well, but there are lessons in that too.
One of my children had been working for the same company for nearly a decade. She was always available and we never turned down a request to work. As a contract employee she learned many skills, trials, labor laws and responsibilities. The "patience lesson" was probably the biggest struggle, but she gained numerous insights into human behavior and working conditions.
She discovered no job is perfect - this one in particular. Her employer and supervising staff were always behind schedule, late with schedule notices, lacking clarity in instructions and asking for last minute favors. We thought it was just part of the business and it was an opportunity for our child to learn decision making, deal with ever changing employment situations and to demonstrate loyalty. So we indulged the inconsistencies and chalked it up to new lessons learned.
PHOTO | Unknown
Then a year ago they asked us to reserve the winter break for some work. So we cancelled vacation plans and waited for them to contact us. They never did. When we mentioned it, the work started to trail off in frequency and amount. This past summer they sent us a new contract only a day and a half prior to her first day of this season's work. It asked for a year and a half of exclusivity, a lower salary prediction and no guarantee of compensation to cover any potential work loss due to the exclusivity. So I contacted a friend in the business, did some research and decided to call them and ask a few questions. They immediately dumped her as an employee.
This employer continues to do work under these conditions and continues to hire children to work for them. Many stay because they believe it is prestigious or they have attained status or fame. Neither is true. That is an illusion perpetrated by adults to take advantage of children (and other adults).
The lesson learned for the children here is: Don't devalue yourself.
No matter where you are on the employee ladder, you deserve to be:
- compensated fairly for your work without undue restrictions
- treated with respect
- valued appropriately
If you find yourself in a situation where your employer is taking advantage of you in any of these areas, find other employment. You, my child, have value. By Russell W. Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 10 October 14
Ted Coonradt - Oberon Puppet Voice | Rick Miller - Puck
Chris Rohling - Lysander | Rick Miller - Puck | Rachel Brady - Hermia | Logan Bitz Daum - Demetrius | Hannah Wehlage - Helena
Maddie Tonjes - Peter Quince | Will Dziuk - Bottom | Kali Jennings - Snug | Alec Lambert - Snout
Sam Pavich - Tatania Puppet Voice
Ted Coonradt - Oberon Puppet Voice | Rick Miller - Puck
Rick Miller - Puck | Will Dziuk - Bottom
Wesley Erickson - Flute | Kali Jennings - Snug | Alec Lambert - Snout | Will Dziuk - Bottom | Maddie Tonjes - Peter Quince
Since I'm an architect, someone in a conversation invariably says, "I can't draw." To which I reply, "Yes you can." Startled, the person initiating the conversation says, "No, really, I can't draw." To which I reply, "No. You can draw. But your perception of your ability has been socialized out of you. By that I mean that our society believes that only a few people are talented enough to draw, so we don't really even try."
Drawing is a creative endeavor that is all about perception. For instance, we all have come to believe that a school is drawn with a peak over the front of a door with steps and a flag flying in front. (This was on a test my kids had in grade school and they had no idea what it was.) However, most schools today don't even come close to looking like that. Why then do we teach our children that a school is an old iconic image from the western frontier? Because we are lazy about creativity and don't try to understand how those images create social barriers to perception and inventiveness. Thus most of us have to go back to the beginning to re-learn what it means to be creative. I've used creative techniques that turn perception on its heels from Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, The Zen Of Seeing, and other sources to prove that you can eventually overcome that socialization.
This concept of turning perception on its heels was made perfectly clear to me in a recent production of A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare performed by an inter-generational group of professionals and students in the parking lot at the Main Street School Of Performing Arts this summer in Hopkins, Minnesota. This talented menagerie looked at the story, placed it in a post world war tent encampment that was also a drive-in movie theater. The changed setting forced the actors to re-imagine what the motivations really were behind the characters and made the audience push the bounds of its perception. Creativity and inventiveness were present in every aspect as they used video, costuming, staging, and puppetry to set the scenes. Several of the characters including Helena, Bottom and Puck became even more powerful and relevant giving the audience pause about the lessons from this play.
Some might say, "So what?" This is theater and they are suppose to be creative. Yet, aren't we all? Isn't our job to re-invent and improve? Perhaps the stagnation in our economy and society is about a lack of creativity. What if it really isn't about money, but it is about the way we've been socialized, educated, and manipulated to perceive. That creativity and inventiveness together have been thrown away for popularity, emotion, and vulgarity which drives a societal engine that never really helps people. Are we "painted blind" as Cupid is because we are not looking with our eyes? Perhaps we need a paint scraper and a magically different perspective. Sounds like a Shakespeare twist to me:
Get Thee To The Forest
Go outside and I'm not talking about mowing the lawn. Change your every day location in a big way. Get out of the house. Get out of your car. Get out of the office. Run away to a state park forest or a zoo filled with magic. Daydream. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds. Imagine mother nature using the rustling of the trees to speak to you in new ways. Shakespeare used this technique, why can't we?
Flip Disadvantage Into Advantage
Most people couldn't imagine working or playing in a cracked, sloping parking lot with dumpsters, parked cars, and weeds. But this theater team made it happen. They took a craggy looking space and turned it into an even craggier looking space with purpose. Find your biggest disadvantage and turn it on its head.
Change One Thing
In one scene Helena rides in on a very long bike. It sets the stage for a more humorous and realistic presentation of her character. The bike says she is unpretentious which is counter to being a desperate and jealous rich woman as many interpret her character to be. Of course the actress breathes new life into her throughout the play, but the bike was the one thing that first began the perception change for the audience.
Ask questions. Investigate. Imagine. Why can't a god be a monster in a garbage can? The play's controlling god, Oberon, was portrayed by many things: an over sized puppet, an under sized puppet, a cloaked human...even a puppet monster in a garbage can. Who would think that Sesame Street could be any kind of inspiration for A Midsummer Night's Dream? Yet, Oscar The Grouch would be proud (really, more grouchy) that he could be seen as a god; after all he did a lot of controlling on Sesame Street. Drawing that parallel to a post war pop culture and seeing the possibility meant that someone had to ask the question first.
Take Risks Together
This summer workshop production took a great deal of collaboration. A Midsummer Night's Dream is a complex play with numerous intertwined themes. It would make any business analyst graphing a flow chart get a migraine - long into the moonlit night. No one person can do it alone. A reinvention like this takes collaborative brainstorming and a willingness to open yourself to supportive vulnerability. The end product will be well worth the creative endeavor.
Throwing aside socialized perceptions and embracing creative endeavors can be daunting, but just as A Midsummer showed us something new and magical might just be created in the end. Perhaps a societal amend.
Todd Hanson - Theseus | Eryn Warne - Hippolyta | Rob Thompson - Egeus| Lily Lenarz-Hooyman - Philostrate | Danny Noyed - Fairy | Kelalani Jankowski - Fairy | Bailey Roth - Fairy | Robby Miller - Fairy | Carley Guthrie - Fairy | Lilly Lenarz-Hooyman - Fairy
Robert Thompson & Rachel Brady - Associate Directors | CC Keith - Production Stage Manager | Devin Hueffed - Puppet Design & Creation | Max Lazerine - Technical Operator | Cole Benson - Original Music | Will Dziuk - Up & Down Video | Sam Kenknight - Puck's Costume | CC Keith & Logan Bitz Daum - Graphic Design |