Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Not THAT sort of job…… June 29, 2012

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burgerAs you know both the boys have been “job-hunting”, in a roundabout way.  One Man-Child recently got himself into a pyramid selling scheme with promises of making millions if he recruited friends of friends to also sell said product.  He’s yet to see one cent!

The other Man-Child seemed to have more promising prospects, when he advised me that he was being offered a job by his girlfriend’s sister, in a cafe.  Excellent, it sounded great, complete with training and it was to be local when she opened a second shop.

It’s funny, and perhaps not intentional, that men-children don’t share all the information with you all the time.  Either they just don’t think it’s relevant, or they know that certain information will in fact lead you down a different path of questioning or to a different decision.

As it transpired, there were a few issues in relation to the “cafe” job.  It started with a requirement for him to sign a contract for a four year “Traineeship” as part of a Certificate 3 in Retail.  Yes he needs training, but he doesn’t need a Cert 3 in Retail over four years!  It’s a casual job!  Hmmm, just like the well-publicised case last year about Brumby’s signing up school kids to benefit from a $4,000 government grant.  I was concerned about the contract “we” were being asked to sign as guardian, moreover, I was worried as our son wants an apprenticeship eventually, and some friends in the know had warned me it could jeopardise future funding for him.

A chat to both the cafe owner and an apprenticeship officer didn’t allay my fears 100%.  The urgency to sign said contract by June 30, even though the new venue hadn’t yet opened, left me feeling a little uneasy.  A few days later, whilst I was still mulling over the contract, my son called late one night and asked if he could start his “training” early, like that evening, with his girlfriend, doing the 11pm to 5am shift on a Saturday night.  What????  As he’d been sick earlier that week, and he had rugby training the following day, the answer was a flat no!  An easy decision to make.  However I then spent a sleepless night tossing and turning, surfing the net and uncovering more detail about the cafe and putting two and two together.

I knew it was a burger joint – no issue there – I love a good burger too.  I then discovered it’s open 24/7 over weekends and from the online reviews I found, you can imagine the clientele it attracts?  Yep, the inebriated late night dwellers in need of a feed.  A sudden realisation then dawned on me which was confirmed the next day by Man-Child – yes they actually work alone in the shop on the night shift, even if they’re 15 or 16 year old boys or girls.  Gulp.  Nope.  Not on my watch.  Sorry, my Man-Child is NOT working there.  That sealed the deal for us.  The answer was simple – no we would not sign the contract, no he would not work there.

Someone said to me the other day, I’m sure Man-Child could look after himself.  And yes, I suppose he probably could.  But as a mother, do I want to put my son at risk unnecessarily?  No I do not.  Am I being paranoid?  Probably. 🙂

When we told Man-Child about our decision, he was understandably furious.  And not surprisingly, he said, well I found a job, and so if you don’t want me to work there, then you’ll have to keep funding me.  Man-Child 1: Parent 0.

Here’s how the conversation went with the pyramid selling job: Man-Child has a job – sort of!


Men-Children and Man-Colds June 22, 2012

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tissuesIt’s been a long week in the Man-Child house, with both boys suffering illnesses.  One of the boys started with a head cold and developed gastro on top of it – so yes a day off school, a no-show at rugby, and pretty crook.  Of course that didn’t stop his GF (did I mention it’s back on following the world’s shortest break-up) from coming over to infect herself with his germs – are they mad?

His twin brother was 100% sure he was going to catch something – I think he practically convinced himself he would get the gastro bug also.  Fortunately he didn’t but he did get a good dose of the man-flu, the serious variety.  Of course it started on Friday night, and when he mentioned he had a party to go to I gave him a quick talking to about the need to have an early night and get some rest so he could play school football the following morning.  In other words I said NO you can’t go out.

So you can imagine our surprise whilst out with friends when we received a text message followed by a phone call from man-child telling us he was indeed going out and would be home later.  Yep, have I mentioned before how obedient my teenage boys are?  He got an instant lecture from me by phone and a guarantee that if he chose to go out I didn’t care how sick he was the following morning, he would be fronting up to footy.  Naturally, he went out.  So I had great delight in waking him up at 6.30am the following morning to drop him at the school bus to head to Geelong for his footy game.  He was pretty sick I have to admit, and if it wasn’t for the night before I would have said he didn’t need to go, but I was determined to stick to my guns.  I picked him up in the afternoon from school, a washed out wreck who crashed and burned.  Call me mean, but sometimes they need a lesson in tough love.  He’s still sick a week later, so it really was the man-flu in his case.

Before you think I am totally lacking any sympathy, I have done several drug runs to the chemist.  I’ve also suggested he head to the doctor, just in case it’s gone to his chest and needs antibiotics.

Thankfully the rest of the household has so far been spared the man-cold, and let’s hope it stays that way.  Meanwhile both the boys will be well just for the beginning of their THREE week school holidays – lucky them.  This holiday completely caught me by surprise, as I thought they still got three weeks in September, but no they’ve moved it to July to align with many other schools.  Whoops.  No vacation plans, sorry boys.  Happy holidays at home over winter…..

Have you endured a man-cold this winter?  Are you full of sympathy, and the master of chicken soup?  Or would you have sent him to footy unwell?  I’d welcome your thoughts.

We have survived illness before – when they were babies on holidays.  It made for a good story – read about it here:  The Holiday from Hell.


Warm Memories June 15, 2012

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heaterThere is a habit my men-children have, that is probably quite unique to Melbourne children.  It only happens in the depths of winter, and it’s still something they do even at 16 years old.  When it’s cold their favourite thing to do is to “lie on the heater”.  By that I mean lying over the central heating duct, normally with a large blanket over themselves, to capture all the warm air, and appearing to be in a state of bliss.

It’s a childhood habit – aren’t they lucky to have grown up with central heating in the first place, and one they haven’t grown out of.  They both had a duct in their rooms when they were small, and I would often find them lying on the carpet with their “blankies” to warm up.  When they moved upstairs (where there are no heating vents of course) the habit remained.  So I will often find one of them parked at the base of the stairs, sitting right on top of the heater, and yes, completely blocking the stairway for someone else.  They have even been known to fight over this spot!

On occasions Sister of a Man-Child will find a large 16-year-old boy sprawled on the floor in her bedroom (it used to be his bedroom so I think that’s why he likes it), or I will walk into our bedroom to find another large 16-year-old on the floor, complete with blanket, laptop, mobile phone, and empty bowls under the bed “doing homework”.   Somehow lying down, and being on a warm heater doesn’t feel conducive to the brain really working well does it?  But trying telling that to a 16-year-old who knows everything.

Of course those who are my age know too well how spoilt today’s children are with the luxuries of ducted heating (and many others).  We certainly didn’t have it when I was a kid, but I do remember very clearly what we had.  It was an upright wall heater, just near the lounge room, which worked on a thermostat, so naturally came on and off.  My father (in his wisdom) told us as small children that the quickest way to get it working was to blow on it!!!!  So every night, wrapped in our towels straight after the bath, you would find four small girls standing in front of the heater blowing madly to make it come on faster.  I don’t know how long we did that for, but eventually we grew out of the habit.  I don’t ever remember Dad telling us it was a joke, but we obviously worked that out at some stage.  I didn’t try that on my boys when they were small – maybe I thought the vision of a child blowing at the floor was just too ridiculous. 🙂

Do you have any childhood memories triggered by things your own children do?  What small events cast you back to your own time as a kid?  Are they fond memories or not?  I’d love to hear from you.

I’ve written before about memories of my own childhood and of the “famous” Hurdy Gurdy in our backyard.


Man-Child has a job – Sort Of! June 8, 2012

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fish hookAs you know I am keen for the men-children to have jobs.  For two main reasons: firstly so they stop putting their hands out for money every week (which they don’t do anything to earn), and second to teach them responsibility and a little business sense gained through working.

One of the men-children has made more efforts than his brother to get a regular job.  But as I doled out yet another note to him the other day (why is it I always have a $50 when I need a $20), I asked him how the job hunting was going, especially since rowing is over, and he now only has one sporting commitment on the weekend.  And do you know what he said to me?  He told me he’d put his resume into every shop in our local area, and no-one had given him a job, and anyway (and I quote here) “why don’t you get me a job”!!!!

Well, you can imagine how that went down can’t you?  So he got a few lessons in life about job-hunting from me.  It went something like this:

  1. A job won’t find you – you find the job.  Your resume will go in a file (or bin) with about 20 others from that week, and that’s where it will stay.  It won’t sit on the top screaming give HIM the job.
  2. You should drop into the places you want to work regularly.  For two reasons: you might just be there on the day they’re thinking about hiring someone.  Or when they do come to hire the next person, they’ll remember the kid who drops in regularly and say lets give him a go.
  3. You should think beyond your own nose!  He has so far visited the businesses within walking distance of our home.  I said why don’t you go a short tram or bike ride down the hill to the next suburb and see if you can get a job somewhere there?  I recall travelling some distance to my casual job every week, and didn’t even think about it.
  4. As for the last comment, I said I didn’t have friends who ran the sort of businesses that could offer him a casual job.  What I didn’t say was that based on your attitude I wouldn’t find you a job even if I could, because I don’t want my sons growing up thinking nepotism is the answer to all their problems!!

I like to think when he made the comment about me finding him a job, he didn’t quite mean it to come out that way.  But apparently since some of his friends have parents who have indeed found their sons jobs, I’m not sure.  So be it – I am not them!

Since our little discussion about job-hunting, an opportunity has in fact presented itself to Man-Child I.   He was invited along to an “information” session the other night by a school peer, about a health-related product that he could help sell.  The information session (think sales pitch) was very successful – my son came home having drunk the Kool-Aid and espousing the virtues of said product and all the money he could make selling it.   He told me all the wonderful things about the product (scientifically proven of course), how a famous footballer had been at the meeting and talked about how good the product was, he showed me the fancy bag with all the shiny literature in it, and told me he was going to have other people selling it, and he’d even make money out of them too.

Pyramid selling at its best?  The way he talked about it reminded me of a successful drug-pushing network.  So Mother of a Man-Child gave him a few lessons in sales (they will tell you ANYTHING), and how it really works (you won’t get rich overnight), and what it really costs (the product is actually pretty expensive), and that they key to success was finding a market to buy the product, and at the prices they sold stuff, I wasn’t sure his school mates could afford it.

I also Googled the name of the company and showed him what some people had to say about this worldwide “conglomerate” and the fact that they promise you’ll make gazillions of dollars, but that really most people don’t make much at all.   That took the shine of it for him!!!  I also suggested he ask his cousin who has some knowledge in this area what he thought of the product (he endorsed it which was something).

So my Man-Child has drunk the last of the Kool-Aid and signed up as a “distributor” of the said “miracle” product.  I said go for it, so long as you go into it with your eyes wide open, and don’t ask me to buy the product from you so you can make sales.  I figure there’s nothing to lose, and something to gain – perhaps some money, but more importantly an insight into how these businesses operate, and what “selling” is really all about.  I’ll keep you posted, and I promise not to offer to sell you anything! 🙂

PS.  All job hunting tips welcome, and of course job offers for a kid who really does want a job!!


Not always the perfect parent June 1, 2012

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bookBeing a mother is a lot of things – joyful, fearful, enlightening, loving, exhausting, rewarding, hilarious, chaotic, spontaneous and so the list goes on.  And being a mother, we naturally wear many hats – teacher, cleaner, mentor, dishwasher, driver, cook, diplomat, doctor, psychologist (oh and wife, friend, daughter, sister as well).   When you sign up for the parenting gig, there’s no going back – it’s 365 days a year, 24/7.  As my father-in-law once said – you’re a parent for life.  You never really stop worrying about your kids – right until the day you leave the earth.

I think he’s 100% right, but quite frankly sometimes the relentlessness of parenting just wears you down.  I have no doubt that I am not the perfect parent.  Certainly I am not in the eyes of my men-children – oh no.  The perfect parent doesn’t make you do homework, but lets you go out whenever you want, doesn’t make you tidy your room, or nag you to take off your filthy footy boots rather than wear them through the house, and gives you an unending supply of cash to fund everything your heart desires.  The perfect parent has a great relationship with their teenager, and somehow always knows what to say to them when they’re angry or hurt, or annoyed, or worried (and don’t want to tell you).  The imperfect parent (guilty) just seems to spend a lot of time yelling at them to do the stuff they need to do, or wondering how it is they are so disrespectful towards me and how did I not manage to teach them that they can’t speak to their mother like that?  Worse still as the imperfect parent swears at them, should she be surprised when they choose to do it back?  (yep, guilty).

The perfect parent knows to count to ten, and not lose her cool, and not make idle threats, and not say things she shouldn’t.  Sadly, I have never been good at counting to ten – it’s not in my nature!

I’m not sure I am the perfect parent even in the eyes of Sister of a Man-Child.  When you hear “It’s okay mum, I know you’re too busy to help me/play with me/talk to me”, the feelings of failure are immense.  Is my life so damn packed full of stuff I have to do that even my youngest child is missing out on the love and attention she deserves from her parents?  Are we just so driven to do everything we have to do that we don’t stop for the very important things (but somehow not a deadline driven task) such as reading a book to our child, or listening to what they need to tell us?

That’s when being a working mother can take its toll on you emotionally.  When you almost feel like you are juggling so many balls in the air that you’re in danger of dropping them all.  Along the way you feel like you are half doing everything.   So you’re running out of time to answer all those emails at night, you’re a stressed wife with too much to do and barely time to exchange words, let alone have a nice conversation with your husband, you’re a useless class rep who’s not really doing what good class reps do, or you’re thinking about the sport commitments for the weekend and which child you will miss seeing play yet again?  And while we do all this, we have the iPhone, or iPad, or laptop within easy reach, all trying to grab our attention and distract us further.

I recently had the chance to head away for 4 days for a “work trip” (okay, so there wasn’t any work at all), a short break from the madness of life in general.  The absolute bonus when I got there was that none of my devices worked, so I was effectively disconnected from the world back home.  Can I tell you it was liberating.  I switched off completely, indulged in reading books (my child-free holidays are often spent devouring a good novel), and just spent time doing nothing.  It was soooooo good.  Did I miss home?  Nope, not in only four days.  I just lapped up the fact that I didn’t have to wash or cook for anyone else, that I could drink champagne for breakfast if I chose (I didn’t), go for a walk if I chose, go to bed early if I chose, or just lie by the pool and let time drift by.

Did it help me be a better parent?  Probably not.  But it did restore some balance in my life, some me-time, some think time, some free time.  As for parenting, I really wouldn’t give it (or them) up for the world (but it was nice to for four short days).  Sometimes it’s okay to be selfish. 🙂

So hands up, who else is a perfect parent?  I’ll feel much better if someone would tell me I’m normal!!

Of course it’s not all bad, as this post shows.   The Men-Children really do love me.