Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Working It Out...Ish...

When I was growing up, the topic of money was kind of taboo in our house. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but it just wasn’t something that was discussed between parents and kids. (Except of course in the context of “No, you certainly may NOT have “xyz-silly-fad-toy.” or “Are you kidding me? That’s an outrageous amount to spend for ‘fill-in-the-blank-fashion-trend’, so forget it!”) Nowadays, Husband and I tend to operate under a much more open policy when it comes to the family’s finances. Well, not to the point of “Daddy makes so-and-so per year”--but we have conversations about stuff like how much things cost, saving up for items that may be ‘wants’ rather than ‘needs’, trying to manage a monthly budget in a mindful way, and so forth.

While I believe that this system of frank “money talk” has generally been positive and instructional, it has recently led to some rather...unexpected consequences. As I’ve previously mentioned, I haven’t yet returned to the Working World since we relocated. Riley was the first one to voice misgivings about this situation, when he asked one day in a very worried tone, “Are we going to have enough money to EAT?” (How utterly shocking that this would be his uppermost area of concern! Yeah, not so much…) Husband and I reassured him that all was well, and that we would continue to feed him and his brother, which seemed to put his fears to rest.

But this apparently triggered Derek’s brain to start spinning along the same lines, and he asked me the other night, “How are we going to go on vacation if you’re unemployed?” (Uh-oh, here we go again…) I reminded him that almost everything costs less down here, which means that Dad and I are striving to save the extra money and put it aside so we can still take a trip next Summer. “Besides,” I added, “I’m still looking for a job, and hopefully I’ll find something soon.” He appeared surprised by this information and blurted, “Oh! I thought you’d given up!” (Nooooo, dear—just because you go off to school and don’t witness the actual search process, doesn’t mean it’s not happening…)

Then his face took on a thoughtful expression and he asked, “Well, what do you WANT to do? What’s your…dream job?” Hmph. Color me…stumped. “Here’s the thing,” I began, after probably 30 seconds of struggling to come up with an answer, “I don’t necessarily need a new career right now. I suppose I’m really aiming to discover something that I’m qualified for…that I can do for around 20-25 hours a week…and that I don’t hate.” He laughed pretty loudly at that, “Jeez, Mom, that sounds greeeaaaat!” (Ah....adolescent sarcasm...) And yet…it’s true. For instance, I know darn well I wouldn’t be able to stand working in a store or a restaurant. Or anything with “sales” or “marketing” in the title, for that matter. I’m not techie-enough for IT. And I don’t want to drive around and deliver…stuff.

So I told him I had applied to an administrative position at a nearby university, doing what sounded a lot like event-planning. “You know,” I explained, “I’d be responsible for keeping the calendar, reserving rooms for meetings, organizing the catering for each activity—that kind of thing.” Again, he snorted, but this time I wasn’t quite sure what was so amusing. He responded to my quizzical expression with, “I can just see it—you’d be on the phone like ‘No, numnutz, I want the coffee taken to Conference Room 114 right this minute, and the sandwiches at noon!’ Wow, that’d be FUN to watch, because it drives you crazy when people don’t do what you want them to do!”  

“Hey!” I started to mount a protest at this unfair…disparagement of my character…and…and…untrue assessment of my highly-developed skills of patience and diplomacy! (Yeah! That’s totally it!) Um…but then I realized..he has a point. In fact—barring the idea that I would EVER call someone a ‘numnutz’--he absolutely nailed my probable reaction when dealing with…incompetence…or uncooperativeness. (And can I say: that’s just downright scary. Good grief, you’d think he’s been watching me for 14 years, or something…oh, wait a minute….never mind…) 

Fortunately, when I indignantly related this little chat to Husband, he pointed out, "Eh, remember that he's looking at it from his teenage-boy perspective--which is mostly based on observing the frustration of trying to negotiate those stupid "automated phone systems" to arrange contractors or resolve issues with services." Oh...right! Maybe in retrospect I should have dragged him to one of those "Take Your Child to Work" days, so he could witness me playing nicely with other adults on a daily basis!

Anyway, maybe I could still successfully fulfill the job requirements…as long as everyone listened to me...and followed directions? Sigh…or perhaps it’s back to the old Drawing Board. (Not that I’m claiming to possess any artistic talent, either—but you know what I mean…) And since he’s soooo insightful into what I’m apparently NOT cut out for, perhaps my teenager can be enlisted as my new Career Counselor…yeah, I’ll let you know how that goes…

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