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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. 

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