Pandemic has toronto.com reporter navigating job — and parenting | #parenting


It’s about trust. As such, we have launched a trust initiative to tell you who we are and how and why we do what we do. This article is part of that project.

If you want to know how community journalism changed since journalists were forced to work at home, try asking my co-worker.

He turns four next month.

I’m calling him Sparkly here to save him future embarrassment.

If you called me about a news story and the soundtrack for our interview was Curious George or Agent Binky: Pets of the Universe, Sparkly’s to blame.

He can play quietly, but there are times when he throws his blocks or trucks around. At our place, this is known as “going nutty.”

The boy genuinely enjoys dropping heavy objects on the floor. “It’s too funny,” he says.

Usually, Sparkly waits until I’m interviewing a source before he begins slamming his little Ikea chair on the floor to generate loud sounds.

The practice of community journalism, that battered little friend to democracy, contends with Sparkly as best it can.

He sings. He appeals for help. He takes the couch cushions apart.

Doesn’t he know I have stories to file?

Hearing him, people are amused, though sometimes they sound caught between amusement and annoyance.

“Do you have to go? I can hear him vocalizing there,” the head of a housing provider asked me recently.

Like many of you, I worry about what this latest (for us, self-imposed) lockdown will do to my kid.

Before the holidays, thanks to a cold, subsequent ear infection and another cold — or was it? — he was home from preschool more than he was there.

I’d like to say my productivity hasn’t dropped with Sparkly at home, but it has.

Macaroni must be cooked, wet underpants changed, socks replaced on feet. The potty — that plastic thing he uses — must be emptied, cleaned, emptied, cleaned. Cookies, when demanded without pause, must be provided.

My wife works in Mississauga half of every week. That ties my schedule in knots because someone must stay with El Sparkelino.

My wife and I both have online meetings. Sometimes my job is to keep the boy away from my wife. Sometimes she keeps him away from me.

Pre-pandemic, I worked in Metroland’s office on Gordon Baker Road. Children there were a rare and cherished event, on par with samples of craft beer arriving.

I cleaned out my desk in November, my first time in the building since March 2020.

I rescued half-used Tim Hortons cards, paper clips, pens. The number of soy sauce and ketchup packets I had stored shocked me.

You can call me there; I’ll still get the message, but that part of my life is gone.

With the child, other things can drift. That’s the danger, particularly when the days are this bleak.

I may decide watching Sparkly stack blocks or letting him clamber over me as we watch cartoons on Treehouse is more pressing than writing for you about zoning or a homeless shelter.

That has happened; I admit it. But most of the time, I’m still on the job.

Mike Adler is a reporter with toronto.com who covers Scarborough. We welcome your questions and value your comments. Email our trust committee at trust@metroland.com



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