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It Wasn’t What I Was Expecting

Thing One has expensive taste.

The kid wants only the best cars, guitars, computers.

Why settle for a Mercedes when you can dream big and have a Lamborghini?

Why settle for a decent guitar when you can dream big and have an autographed Les Paul?

During his entire life, I’ve laid the groundwork of the idea that hard work brings benefits — particularly money. So he’s been trying to land a job for months.

Problem is, most companies won’t hire someone until they’re 16. To my kid, that’s wasted weeks of income earning!

He’s had his own business of guitar lessons — which he did quite well running until his students lost interest in the instrument. So his money-less status isn’t for lack of trying to make a bit of cash.

On my birthday in mid-March, the boys wanted to buy me gifts. One of the things I wanted dearly were some pansies for my patio. We had looked at Lowes and Walmart, but had decided that we really wanted to spend our money locally and decided to purchase them at the local nursery.

As we pulled in, Thing One said, “I wonder if they’re hiring? I’d like to work someplace like this.”

I’m thinking, in the back of my head: They might be. Maybe we can ask another time when you’re not wearing a Megadeth t-shirt inherited from your metal-head father and after you’ve combed your hair. 

I didn’t voice that idea. Didn’t think it would be necessary.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

We browsed the pansies and the boys told the attendant they want to buy me pansies for my birthday.

We selected a set of pansies and made our way to the check out. While they were taking care of the transaction, Thing One pipes up, “Are you guys hiring?”

ALARM BELLS RING IN MY HEAD: NO! NO! Not now. Wait until you’re wearing something different. Wait until you’re prepared!!!!

The attendant said she didn’t know but asked the owner.

More alarm bells in my head! Not the owner. Not today. We’re not ready!!!!

The owner came over, Thing One introduced himself and inquired again about a possible job.

They chatted for a moment, and the owner said that they weren’t hiring today, but that they might as the season continued, and would he like an application?

Continued alarm bells in my head. Okay. Take the application. We’ll fill it out at home. 

Sure, he says, and tells her he’ll fill it out right then.

NO!!! Your handwriting is atrocious and you don’t really know what a “reference” IS. We should do this at home where I can guide and teach you!!!

I watch over his shoulder (and gently remind him that they have to be able to read it). I supply him with his social security number. He asks me about references, and I quietly let him know that he should put down the names of people who know his character and work ethic. He chooses his karate instructors. All three of them.

Alarm bells are quieter now. But only because they sense the futility of continuing to clang. 

He submits the application and is darn proud of himself.

I smile. But inside my head I’m thinking: Well, at least he learned about a job application. I seriously doubted that they would call primarily because I wasn’t sure they could even read the phone number on the application.

But, they called. They wanted him to come in for an interview.

He went. In his M*A*S*H* tshirt (whew!) and with his hair in a ponytail. He used his manners. He used his confidence to sell himself.

He came home with the idea that they may use him in June when they plant mums for the fall.

They called last Saturday and asked him if he could come in that day.

It wasn’t what I was expecting.

But now he’s on the schedule for Monday, Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.  He’s hefting compost bags and planting lettuce. He’s learning how to care for seedlings and how to be responsible and get to work on time.

He landed that job. On his own. And has stepped up and done everything they’ve asked of him.

Maybe I need to have a tiny little bit of faith that the seeds I lovingly planted in him throughout his entire life are truly flourishing and thriving in his character, in his work ethic, in his self-determination?

Maybe I need to have a tiny little bit of faith that not everyone on the planet will discount my kid and his character based simply on the shirt he wears or the length of his hair?

Maybe I need to trust that my kid can handle more than I ever thought he could?

Maybe I should. 

Each week, a group of awesome bloggers who love to read each others’ stuff, and push themselves to be better and better writers, link up at YeahWrite — won’t you join us?

{ 67 comments… add one }

  • bonnie ferrell April 10, 2012, 7:13 am

    you must be proud!
    bonnie ferrell recently posted..Make up-Monday 100 Fan Giveaway!

  • Jackie April 10, 2012, 7:16 am

    Wow! That is amazing. I really need my daughter to take a lesson from him! She is so focused on her schoolwork that she does little else. She won’t even get her license even though she’s taken the classes because she doesn’t want to get a job to help pay for gas.
    Jackie recently posted..Monday Menu ~ The Caramel Story

  • Tara @ secretsofamomaholic.com April 10, 2012, 8:36 am

    I guess letting go of control is never easy. I’m having a problem with doing so and my daughter is four! I sometimes shiver at the thoughts of her being a 15 year old!!!

    Congrats to your son!
    Tara @ secretsofamomaholic.com recently posted..Jumbo Shrimp

  • Eve April 10, 2012, 9:03 am

    That’s awesome! I was the same way when I was 15. I got my first job at Orange Julius making smoothies at the mall. I asked if they were hiring and the owner offered me the job on the spot. My parents were so worried that I’d accepted too quickly and wasn’t ready. But I was and I worked there all through high school. Don’t worry, he’ll do great, mom!

    • RChicken April 10, 2012, 9:14 pm

      He is doing great. Even brought home some extra lily bulbs that were going to be trashed so that we could plant them here :)

  • Julie April 10, 2012, 12:04 pm

    LoL a signature series Les Paul for a boy? really? It costs more than 10 thousand bucks. That guitar isn’t for practicing.
    Julie recently posted..instant veneers

    • RChicken April 10, 2012, 9:13 pm

      Oh, believe me…he knows exactly what one costs! Music is his life. He’s absolutely convinced that he will own one someday. Let’s just say it would take hundreds of years of allowance to save up that much!

  • Naomi April 10, 2012, 9:53 pm

    You must be so proud right now. Remember the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”? I guess that fits here. :) Good job for your son and smile for you happy mommy! :)
    Naomi recently posted..how to date in college

    • RChicken April 11, 2012, 6:26 am

      I am super proud! Thanks for stopping by :)

  • Jill April 10, 2012, 10:59 pm

    FABULOUS! Good for you for holding back that voice.
    PS My guess is that next year those pansies will show up on their own. <3
    Jill recently posted..401k matching

    • RChicken April 11, 2012, 6:26 am

      They just might! Last week, he brought home surprise lily bulbs for my perennial garden. Love that boy :)

  • Ashleen Moreen April 10, 2012, 11:04 pm

    It seems that I was like your child when I was a teenager. Sometimes we never expect the things that our kids can do more than we expected.
    Ashleen Moreen recently posted..Pivot Doors – An Artful Way to Mark an Entrance

  • Beth confusedhomemaker April 14, 2012, 8:56 am

    Great for him on getting the job! You must be a proud momma!!

    {came by way of SITS}
    Beth confusedhomemaker recently posted..Handiwork

  • justkeepinitrealfolks April 14, 2012, 4:56 pm

    I really needed to read your post today. My 16 year old son (who desperately needs a job) went to apply for 3 jobs today at local establishments. He wore shorts and a basic t-shirt, which I thought was much too causal of an outfit for job hunting. Maybe he will surprise me just like your son. Thank you for boosting my spirits!!!

    • RChicken April 14, 2012, 7:57 pm

      You know what…I have a feeling that these days, if a kid came in wearing a collared shirt and khakis, the manager wouldn’t know what to do with himself!

  • Laura@Catharsis April 14, 2012, 6:18 pm

    YAY!! A job, a job, a job! That is awesome. This is a beautiful post because it serves as a reminder that sometimes, the things we worry about most when it comes to our kids are the things they actually have mastery over. Doesn’t it feel wonderful?
    Laura@Catharsis recently posted..I have a joke or riddle or whatever, and there’s a 60/40 chance you’ll get it.

    • RChicken April 14, 2012, 7:56 pm

      It has been so wonderful. And he picked up his first paycheck yesterday. His first really earned money. He was so proud :)

  • Christine @ Love, Life, Surf April 14, 2012, 7:06 pm

    That is so awesome!! Congrats to your son and good for him! I can imagine how hard it must have been to not butt in and let him do it on his own. If it were me, I would have had to go back to the car and sit there until he was finished. It sounds like you are raising a great boy.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Humble Pie

    • RChicken April 14, 2012, 7:56 pm

      He IS a good boy. Unless he’s mad at his brother…which he is at this very moment. Grrrr….

  • Eric Storch April 15, 2012, 8:24 am

    Good for you. Looks like you have done well by him.

    And seriously? A signature Les Paul?! The kid has good taste. :-)
    Eric Storch recently posted..Gone, but still working

  • Alison@Mama Wants This April 16, 2012, 3:48 am

    That is awesome, well done, Thing 1!!
    Alison@Mama Wants This recently posted..Memories Captured – April Link Up!

  • Julie April 17, 2012, 10:15 am

    Good job, bud! Be proud, mom. Really proud.

  • Erica M April 17, 2012, 1:46 pm

    Can you hear me shouting? Yay!
    Erica M recently posted..yeah write #53 is open

  • Pish Posh April 17, 2012, 1:54 pm

    This is a fabulous post!! Really enjoyed it. I totally understand your reaction, but being a former metal head part of me thought “what’s wrong with a Megadeth t-shirt?” ;) That’s great that he got the job – because it shows character that he wanted that particular job, rather than in a chain store!
    Pish Posh recently posted..O is for Onomatopoeia

  • Robbie April 17, 2012, 2:02 pm

    Good for him! Also congrats to you for silencing those alarms and letting him proceed despite all of your misgivings.
    Robbie recently posted..Prairie Shirts, Knickers and Loneliness

  • Julia April 17, 2012, 2:17 pm

    Oh, how exciting! That first job is such a huge milestone.
    Julia recently posted..A Whole New World

  • Karine April 17, 2012, 4:49 pm

    It must have been hard to sit on the sidelines… but good for you for not intervening and so awesome that he got his first job. And all on his own and by being himself, that’s even better! Great self-esteem boost!
    Karine recently posted..Perhaps I Possibly May Have Been Wrong…

  • Miranda April 17, 2012, 5:41 pm

    It’s so great that he had the drive and initiative to ask about them hiring. Good for him and congrats on him getting the job!
    Miranda recently posted..The Race that Defied the Laws of Nature

  • WilyGuy April 17, 2012, 7:04 pm

    We are in similar spots. My 15 year old wants a job, preferably one that involves escaping his sister.

    Good for him!
    WilyGuy recently posted..Steer Clear of the Viral Post!

  • Mayor Gia April 17, 2012, 7:35 pm

    Aw, sounds like he has a good work ethic already!
    Mayor Gia recently posted..Things that Make Boyfriend Angry: a Dinner Adventure

  • Jamie April 17, 2012, 8:28 pm

    I think you do already… alllll of those concerns stayed right inside that Mommy head of yours and on the outside you were supportive and encouraging. I think you’re doing just great!
    Jamie recently posted..my first night

  • Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms April 17, 2012, 9:43 pm

    Love, love, love these kinds of stories. Sometimes it is best to skip the worry, jump in, and just do it. Lucky mom that your boy shines brighter than any t-shirt. Ellen
    Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms recently posted..The Stranger in My House

  • Shiftless Mommie April 17, 2012, 10:06 pm

    This is great. I remember having my mom near tears because I insisted on submitting a portfolio with a faux Western finish. (It seemed like a really edgy thing to do at the time.) She was sure I would completely embarrass myself, but in the end she let me do it and it worked out fine. I got to be proud that I did things my way and on my own, just like your kiddo. (Who, by the way, has great taste in T-shirts!)
    Shiftless Mommie recently posted..I don’t want to be friends.

  • jamieywrites April 17, 2012, 10:55 pm

    Let go and let them. When we loosen our grip, we can see their potential soar ;)
    jamieywrites recently posted..Affordable Ride With Hyundai

  • Michelle Longo April 18, 2012, 6:36 am

    I know, when the time comes, I’ll be standing there giving advice in my head too! Good for you for letting him do it and good for him for wanting and landing a job!
    Michelle Longo recently posted..Two Years.

    • RChicken April 18, 2012, 8:10 am

      It was SO hard not to intervene. But I am ever so glad I kept my big mouth shut!

  • christina April 18, 2012, 8:33 am

    awww, congrats to your boy for doing all that completely on his own!! what an awesome story he will be able to share one day with his own kids.
    christina recently posted..Sister

  • Susan April 18, 2012, 11:32 am

    I agree with Michelle – so impressed that you sat back and let him do it! It’s so hard for me not to reach out and help my toddler do everything. I find myself sitting on my hands far more than my rear end appreciates!
    Susan recently posted..Today in the Mommyhood, Day 534 (Part: Shots, Anyone?)

    • RChicken April 18, 2012, 6:37 pm

      It was SO hard! I just kept thinking, “It’s not the end of the world if he blows this opportunity. It’ll give him a chance to learn.”

      And doggone it, the little bugger lands the job! Could have knocked me over with a feather :)

  • tara pohlkotte April 18, 2012, 2:12 pm

    yay! what a good mama to have kept those thoughts parked in your head. i think that’s half the battle right there. i am so behind you fussing internally about my kids, who are still young yet, but this is such a great lesson that i need to let them be the people they are and not suffocate their ability to learn on their own.

    oh, and PS – my brother was your son. loved everything music. yearned for unrealistic musical goods…now he is a professional musician (he’ll be on david letterman in july) so, sometimes it all works out :)
    tara pohlkotte recently posted..Dreams Born Under a Patchwork Sky

    • RChicken April 18, 2012, 6:36 pm

      Wow! I keep begging my kid for a “Plan B” but he’s like, if I have a Plan B, I won’t work hard enough on Plan A. Perhaps he has a point???

  • Stephanie April 18, 2012, 2:30 pm

    AWESOME! That’s the perfect job for a teen. And he did it all on his own! You must be so proud of him.
    Stephanie recently posted..P is for Pyjamas

  • Donna B. McNicol [@donnabmcnicol] April 18, 2012, 5:31 pm

    Really enjoyed this…teenagers are interesting. LOL!
    Donna B. McNicol [@donnabmcnicol] recently posted..Linked – A to Z Blog Hop

  • Louise Ducote April 18, 2012, 5:45 pm

    Congrats, girl! You must have done some good work; sit back and enjoy.
    Louise Ducote recently posted..Say Less

    • RChicken April 18, 2012, 6:35 pm

      I’m so proud of him :) I hope he knows it!

  • Delilah April 18, 2012, 6:05 pm

    That is great! Good for him. It’s so hard as a mom to know when to step back and when to push. I have a hard time with the balance.
    Delilah recently posted..I’d Call Her Van Gogh but She Has 2 Ears

    • RChicken April 18, 2012, 6:34 pm

      Balance and I do not get along. That’s why I quit gymnastics :) But seriously, he’s showing me week after week that he’s learned lots of what I have tried to teach…more indirectly soaking it up than a lesson, per se…but learning nonetheless!

  • stephanie April 18, 2012, 6:07 pm

    Awesome! Loved all of it, your reservations, and then your conclusions. Yes, take credit for that fine young man you’ve raised. I love it that he wants to work in the dirt, with his hands, with living things. How cool is that? But more importantly he goes to work on time, follows through. Such a nice post! Heartwarming I think is the right word.
    stephanie recently posted..Books for Babes..

    • RChicken April 18, 2012, 6:31 pm

      Thank you! He’s loving his new job…and comes home feeling accomplished and eager to return.

  • Jay- The Dude of the House April 19, 2012, 1:11 am

    Such a pleasant surprise, I’m sure.

    This made me think of one of my favorite song lyrics:

    Once in a while you get shown the light,
    in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    Congrats on your son’s job. And sense of independence.
    Jay- The Dude of the House recently posted..Stars Are Just Like Us?

    • RChicken April 19, 2012, 5:19 pm

      Love those lyrics! Thanks for sharing them :)

  • Abby April 19, 2012, 9:03 am

    I love, love, love a happy ending!! I also love that your son had the bravery to walk right up and ask for a job. I was never that brave as a kid. Kudos to him, and to you!
    Abby recently posted..Weekend Warriors (An Illustrated Abby Gabs)

    • RChicken April 19, 2012, 5:19 pm

      I was never brave as a kid either. And sometimes wonder if I ever am as an adult. I tell you…I learn SO much from him!

  • Stacey April 19, 2012, 9:54 am

    That is awesome!! I love this story! You have got an awesome kids there – metal band t-shirts and all! :-)
    Stacey recently posted..Letter to My Son

    • RChicken April 19, 2012, 5:18 pm

      Thanks…his dad was (and I guess still IS) a metal head. Thing One likes a little bit of metal, but is really into the Blues right now…and some classic rock and roll…

  • Kristin April 19, 2012, 10:52 am

    He must have gotten the chutzpah from somewhere. Where on earth could that have been? :)
    Kristin recently posted..Glad I Saw It: Big Metal Birds

    • RChicken April 19, 2012, 5:18 pm

      Hmmmm….where could he have gotten it? I’ll have to ponder that one ;)

  • Ado April 19, 2012, 11:59 am

    You must be 1 proud mama!
    Ado recently posted..What I Needed

  • Jackie April 19, 2012, 7:25 pm

    While I am overflowing with pride, I can only imagine how full your own cup must be with this one! Good for you and good for you son!
    BTW, how’d the pansies turn out?
    Jackie recently posted..Gone

  • Sadie April 22, 2012, 10:00 pm

    That must’ve been one cool owner! Congrats to your son on the job, and the amazing accomplishment – and congrats to you on being able to let go a bit, even if it wasn’t willingly. <3

    • RChicken April 23, 2012, 6:08 am

      Thanks, Sadie! He’s one great kid, but refuses to bend to the world’s general rules. I know that someday this will serve him well…but in the meantime, it makes life a bit harder for him!

  • Kimberly S. (Sperk*) May 18, 2012, 10:55 am

    Love this post, the way you articulated your doubts as things were transpiring. I can totally relate and do the same so often. This story is a testament to your parenting…and also a testament to the fact that if we have a little faith, we will see all the love and devotion we give our kids take root and sprout in time.
    Kimberly S. (Sperk*) recently posted..Looks Like It, Smells Like It, Must Be Parent Orientation

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