My sixteen year old son got a job at the same place my 18 – oooops, 19 year old son works. I was really pleased that they would be working together for some reason. I love that they are so different, but get along well too. Their father and his brothers have had friction all of their lives and I was hoping it wouldn’t be true of my boys. I’m so happy they are friends.
They seemed to love my boys over there at work. They are both fast, hard workers. They get a lot of praise for their efficiency. My older son said, “These people don’t know I’m going to replace them all with robots someday”. He is only half joking, he’s studying robotics. My younger son said it’s like a game, to see how fast he can plunge his hands into the hot water to fish something out before it burns him. Smiling here. Whatever works.
Anyway, the other day I started getting a barrage of texts from my younger son saying he was going to quit his job, he hates it, etc….He was really angry. I kept telling him to calm down and tell me about it after work, not to do anything rash, etc…..I had no idea what happened. I kept thinking I didn’t want him to cut off his nose to spite his face……Is that too old-fashioned of a saying here? I didn’t want him to hurt himself by doing anything impulsive. He’s 16. He’s impulsive. I didn’t want him to just quit, even though I knew the place had issues. I kept trying to reason with him, calm him down, wait to talk to me, etc….It became really important to me to get him to stay. It’s like I think a job, any job is gold and worth hanging onto.
The place he works is very poorly run. There seems to be no organization structure as far as scheduling, planning, etc… On several occasions I’ve made the trip out there to drop them off, only to find the schedule had been changed without informing them. It’s an issue because I’m a self-employed, single mom. I don’t have time to make a bunch of useless trips. There is an employee who seems to effect everyone, not finishing his work, leaving piles for the next shift, causing everyone to get behind in their own work, while cleaning up after him for hours, etc…..
I started thinking about my whole life and how hard I’ve worked. And, how, my working so long and hard in some cases hurt me terribly. But, I kept doing it. I did work that completely, totally exhausted me. I met insane deadlines while caring for a newborn and a toddler. I took my planner to the hospital and walked straight to my computer when I got out. I deprived myself of sleep and dignity, in some cases. I’ve taken work well beneath my ability levels. I put my babies in carseats with baggies of cereal so I could deliver what I had stayed up all night to produce. I was sleep deprived for years.
I thought I had no choice. I did. I could have said “no”. I could have decided my quality of life was worth something, I was worth something, far more than whatever I was being paid. Let me say here that I totally understand going into survival mode and doing whatever it takes to keep a roof over your head. But, that’s not what was going on here.
So, I came to my senses and stopped telling my son not to quit. Even though I know he needed money and has some expensive items coming up that he wants to pay for. I didn’t keep pushing him to stay. I did encourage him to talk to the manager to see if it could be worked out. I also said if he quit he had to take care of his part of the deal properly; call the manager, give notice, not just disappear on them. Take care of your side of the street, son.
While my initial instinct was to get him to find a way to stay, I worried that I would be passing on my tendency to be grateful for a job, any job. I didn’t want him to get into the habit of settling. He has the luxury of choice at this age. I wanted him to get in the habit of taking care of himself, not forcing drudgery on himself because “…he should be grateful for any job”. He has a choice. He can choose work he enjoys. I want him to. If there is anything I want for him, for his future, it’s to find and create a life’s work that he loves. Work is huge. Work is life. I want him to love his work.
Last week, on several occasions, I was reminded how much I love my work. As I was leaving a customer’s house the other day, she said, “Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough!” Are you kidding me? I thought. “I just spent the afternoon getting paid for doing what I love, I should be thanking you”.
If there is anything I want to teach my son, it’s to find work he loves. And, if it means quitting the job he has now, even though he needs the money to do the things he wants to do this fall, I gave him my blessing. He asked me to take him around so he can look for a new one this afternoon, so this is what we’ll do…..Work is good, let’s find something good…..