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Take your middle-aged kid to retirement day - Tom Purcell

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day ought to be expanded.

One day every April -- this year, it'll be on Thursday -- parents bring their kids to workplaces to help them "envision their future and begin steps toward their end goals."

It's a great program, but why limit it to kids 8 to 18? In these difficult economic times, we middle-aged people need dreams and aspirations, too.

That's why, every year, I spend that day shadowing my parents. They are retired.

It usually begins at 5:30 a.m., when my father and I drink coffee and complete the crossword puzzle.

"This is the life," I say. "No job, no boss and lots of time to do whatever you want!"

My father asks me for a three-letter word for a son who gets on his father's nerves, but I'm never very sharp at that hour.

Shouting out several wrong answers, I accidentally wake Mom, who stumbles in to join us.

"What do you want with us?" she says, rubbing her eyes.

As I jump up and attempt to prepare her coffee, I drop a carton of milk on the floor.

"Your father is calling you from the other room," she says.

I don't hear his calls, though. All I hear are his heavy steps heading to the bathroom. He slams the bathroom door shut just as I get there.

"Did you call me, Dad?"

"No."

"If you're going to finish the crossword puzzle in there, can you hand me the Reader's Digest?"

Later that morning, Mom explains that every month, she and Dad receive two deposits in their bank account -- one from a private retirement account, one from Social Security.

"Now that's what I'm talking about!" I shout, as Mom and Dad roll their eyes.

Dad and I head to the bank to get some money. The manager has her young daughter with her at work.

The girl proudly tells me she will be a bank president one day.

"I hope to retire," I tell her.

By early afternoon, I am really taking to the retired life. As Mom leaves the house to go for a walk with her retired friends, Dad and I watch "Judge Judy."

"How do you think she'll rule on this one?" I say.

"Don't you have to go to work?" he says.

"Can we watch 'The Price is Right' later?" I say.

"Your mother worries about you," he says.

We are both pretty drowsy about then. I nod off on the family-room couch as Dad saws logs in his favorite leather chair.

I wake refreshed as Mom arrives back home.

"How was your walk?" I ask her.

"Why aren't you married?" she replies.

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, originally Take Our Daughters to Work Day, was established by the Ms. Foundation 18 years ago.

In 2003, the program was expanded to include boys. I say it's high time we expand it to include everybody else, too.

Aspiring to the simple retirement so many of our parents enjoy may drive more adults to make our politicians get our affairs in order.

If we don't get spending down, we face a certain future of massive taxes and a dead economy that will make retirement much harder for my generation.

After I splurged on dinner -- it was two-for-one night at the subway shop -- Mom and Dad told me they were very tired and needed to go to sleep immediately.

They thanked me for spending the day with them, then locked themselves in their bedroom.

I could hear them laughing at their television, though.

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. E-mail Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.