In the last few days before the holidays, office buildings are strangely full of small children. They are brushed and clean and curiously similar to people you work with, only shorter and cuter and more fresh-faced. In the mornings they are bashful and hiding behind chairs, but by the afternoon they are surfing Facebook and crashing up and down in the lifts.
The office canteen is a wonderland of normally forbidden chips and fizzy drinks, so by the end of the day the little cherubs are completely hyperactive and the poor dad or mum is stressed to the limit from interrupted phone calls and the disapproving looks of their colleagues.
I can distantly remember as a child visiting parental workplaces, which were huge spaces populated by giants just like in Jack and the Beanstalk. My own grown up children remember clearly their childhood visits to the Reed Business Information offices in a more child-hostile decade, particularly when an adult in the lifts referred to them as "rug rats", and most prominently when my sweet-natured colleague Carolyn gave them money to spend on chocolates in the shop. Those visits were when they first found out that their mother said she went to work, but really went to a place where she could play on the computer all day - a misapprehension which has been hard to shake even to this day.
One friend tells the tale of how she started work at a chemical company, in the same business that her father had been in, only to find that there were senior managers there who still remembered her as a child with her crayons, and who kept popping in to her office to gaze on her with disbelief.
(Photos of ICIS Baby Connor taken earlier in the year.)
Click here for more about children who follow their parents into the petchems business: Chemicals II: the Next Generation.