Publisher: Newspapers are a great place to raise kids
After school each day, my daughter Lydia, 5, comes to The Clinton Chronicle. She has her own office and a laptop from home. She watches cartoons and plays games on the Nick Junior and Disney Junior websites.
Mostly she does a lot of writing letters and numbers, coloring and cutting paper, and organizing. She’s learning a lot in Mrs. Amanda Sicilia’s class at M.S. Bailey Child Development Center and a lot of what she learns gets practiced in her office.
Lydia is content there and you often don’t hear a peep out of her. But several times each afternoon you will hear: “Daddy!” That’s my cue to head to her office and see what the boss needs. If I’m in the middle of something and can’t answer, I’ll hear: “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” Demanding boss.
There are times we have to talk about staying out of the supply closet. After all, sticky notes are not for play. And Lydia’s favorite thing is to find and use all the permanent markers at the paper.
She sneaks those markers out to our truck. On the way to school one day, she pulled one out and started drawing, getting some on her hand. I said, “They are going to think you don’t get a bath.” She grinned.
With the most beautiful blue eyes you’ve ever seen and two front teeth that she’s grinded off at night, she has Daddy wrapped around her finger.
When it snowed in January, advertising representative Debbie Ray took Lydia out front of The Chronicle and had a snowball fight. Debbie often brings Lydia books.
The rest of the staff doesn’t mind a little girl running around a few hours each day. Lydia likes Larry Franklin. She thinks he’s funny and often calls him “Silly Goose.”
Larry’s grandson, Wilkes, previously occupied Lydia’s office. His sign is still on the door: “Wilkes McWatters, Special Assignments.” Below his sign: “Lydia Whitmore, District 56 Special Correspondent.”
Newspapers are pretty cool for kids. There is a big warehouse in the back and lots of stuff to investigate.
I remember during my time in Union seeing kids trailing Anna Brown of the Union County News. Bobby and Angela grew up at the newspaper, following Anna everywhere on assignment. Graham Williams, also at the Union County News, watched his children grow up playing with the press crew in the back of the old Union Daily Times.
I imagine it’s about like that all over. One reason is that newspaper jobs usually have irregular hours. You have to come in early and stay late sometimes. With the kids along for the ride, the family stays intact.
Now that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It can be frustrating when you hear, “Daddy!” and you are right in the middle of something, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That little girl and her momma are my heart.
I’m sure as Lydia gets older, coming to the newspaper will be boring. And there will come a time she doesn’t holler, “Daddy!” She’s growing up too fast.
God help me to always realize the treasure of these moments.
(Brian Whitmore is publisher of The Chronicle.)