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While packing for our family summer vacation, my 11 year old daughter timidly asked me if I was going to bring my laptop with me to Mexico. She didn’t have to explain why she was asking – she’s probably still haunted by the vacation we took to the Dells a couple of years ago where I spent two solid days sitting by the pool on my laptop, fixing an ecomm project for a new client that had gone horribly wrong. The nightmare was no fault of ours, we inherited the nightmare from the client’s previous development firm – it was just bad timing that it happened right when I went on vacation.
I told her I thought her mother wouldn’t let me go if I tried to bring my computer, because we were going on vacation – and we weren’t going to work on vacation this time (admittedly I’m a bit of a workaholic, to put it mildly). Of course I would bring my iPad*… but only so she and her brother could watch movies during the flight. I promised her I wasn’t going to work, instead I was going to be the Dad I wanted to be for an entire week: playing with my kids on the beach for seven days straight. Totally unwired.
Fast-forward a few days, where she and I were laying on the beach in Mexico – resting for a bit after playing in the ocean. She brings out her DS, and I bring out a book on web design – specifically CSS3 For Web Designers by Dan Cederholm, from the A Book Apart series. My daughter looks at me and says “Dad, why are you reading a work book – you’re on vacation! Read something interesting!
I’ll tell you what I told her – this sort of stuff is interesting to me. Sure, we’d been planning this vacation for six months… but I’d had this book sitting on my desk for about the same amount of time. Of course I’d already read it cover to cover, along with the other three books in the series that have so far been published. Any real web designer worth anything is already waist deep in CSS3 and HTML5, implementing it more and more into every project possible. But the opportunity to read thru the entire series again, uninterrupted by phone calls, IM windows, text messages, site alerts or deadlines, well that was an opportunity upon which I wasn’t going to miss out.
So with the sound of the ocean in the background, and the smell of suntan lotion and salt in the air, I told her this… I honestly love what I do. I’m lucky to have an occupation where I enjoy going to work in the morning, work with co-workers and clients who I truly enjoy spending time with, and constantly get to learn new things.
Yeah, I might not have been “totally unwired”. Sure, I Facebooked pictures of my kids playing in the pool and getting henna tattoos, and I FourSquared my location from the beach whenever I was close to the one wifi spot at the resort… but hey, she played on her DS.
*Confession: I do have Gusto installed on my iPad, just in case I need to edit a site in an emergency. But sssh… don’t tell my kids.