Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Men (children) at Work!!! September 14, 2012

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working menSometimes an opportunity presents itself that is just perfect for everyone involved.  My sister (aunt of the men-children) is just undertaking a major landscaping project at her home.  It’s the works – complete gutting of the backyard, removal of all trees, plants, out-buildings, concrete slabs (literally back to dirt), and then starting again, with a new shed/studio, trees, paths, lawn, vegie patch etc.

As she contemplated the enormity of the job they had undertaken recently, which like all good couples they are largely doing themselves (occasionally “assisted” by a 3-year-old of course), it occurred to me that I had two potential workers to offer her.  Who better to employ than the men-children?  Both currently unemployed as you know, just at the end of their AFL and Rugby seasons, and pre rowing season, with spare weekends and a desire for cash.  Perfect!  The upside for my sister – the cheapest labour you can get (at $10/hour plus meat pies and Coke), and non-union to boot!

So off they went last weekend for their first shift of labouring.  Dressed just like a couple of “tradies”, raring to go.  Now if the truth be known I am not sure what my sister and brother-in-law expected, although I suspect they thought they might be a bit soft, and/or slack (in keeping with the “private school boy” image).  The reality was something quite different.  They both jumped straight into the work, and achieved a huge amount over a six-hour period.  It has to be said, which 16-year-old boy wouldn’t enjoy belting the crap out of an old timber floor, wielding an axe, chopping down trees etc.  They did a good enough job to be invited back this weekend.  They were even complimented on their work ethic, and one on his very practical approach on the day, the latter for the aspiring “tradie” who is keen to leave school to pursue a career in building.  I was quietly chuffed to hear this.

So home they came, with their earnings, dirty and sweaty but satisfied.  They were thrilled to have the money to spend that night (I think “Dan” was the recipient of some of it), we were thrilled not to have to fund their social life for a change, and my sister and brother-in-law were thrilled to have broken the back of the clean up stage.  A veritable trifecta of happiness.

This project should see them out to the end of the school holidays, and then we’re back into sporting commitments.  I have already offered their services to another friend who is building a new house, and of course will have a large DIY landscaping job at the end of it.  Enquiries for future work welcome, but if I get them too many gigs I will have to look at taking a commission!!

I have written about each of their previous employment “opportunities”: Pyramid Selling and Burger Joint.


Gaining life experience from work experience April 27, 2012

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work toolsThe men-children recently completed work experience as part of their school curriculum.  In Year 10, they set aside a week for all the boys to complete a week “working” – for some their first real taste of life outside school in an adult working environment.

Not surprisingly, the experiences were as varied as the 250 boys in the year level, ranging from a week spent with the Melbourne Rebels (cool) to a week spent at the Melbourne Zoo (also cool).   Even our boys selected very diverse options.  One spent the week with a sports management company (largely office based as it turned out), and one spent the week with a builder (largely outdoor based naturally).

I think each of the boys learned a lot about working, and the ups and/or downs of the particular companies they worked for.  The man-child who elected for the sports management job probably thought it would be a lot more glamorous than it was.  He did get one outing at an AFL football club, but the rest of the time was largely spent talking with staff to understand their jobs (basically project management), or helping the girls in the office with the database (the alternative to “filing”).  As I explained to him when he told me about having to spend a few hours “cutting and pasting” one day:  “I also have to do shit like that, and I’m paid a lot more than $10 a day”.  Everyone has grunt stuff to do as part of their job, so for me it was a great lesson about starting at the bottom, and being prepared to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty.  I was also at pains to point out that it really is quite difficult to find a meaningful job for someone on work experience for a week, and that he could rest assured when he gets a real job there will be set tasks for him to do and he’ll feel a sense of purpose.

I agreed to drop him off one day and we were chatting about what he’d learned.  He mentioned a discussion by management about the cost for “the cloud”, and then quickly asked me – BTW, what exactly is “the cloud”?  Firstly a very good marketing term, but basically just a bunch of servers where you store all your stuff and pay someone else to worry about its retention, security, retrieval etc.  I was glad he asked, as that’s exactly how you learn.   I also had to laugh the day he rang me from the supermarket to tell me he’d been sent down to buy chips and dips for Friday night drinks (a VERY important job) and to ask me which dips he should choose!  I said you can’t go wrong with Hummus and Tzatziki (and quietly delighted in the fact that he had called his mother to ask). 🙂

In complete contrast to his office-bound brother, our other man-child went off “labouring” with a builder friend.   His turned out to be a great experience, with opportunities to work with multiple “tradies” during the week, coupled with the chance to drive a quad bike and a ute on the large property they were working at.  Teenage heaven!  He also spent a few nights out at the property, and I think really enjoyed the manual work (although he was pretty stuffed by it).  Of course it’s much easier to give someone stuff to carry, dig, cart, etc in this environment, so I have no doubt he felt very “useful” compared to his brother.  However I did also point out to our “labourer” that it wasn’t quite as glamorous as he might think.  I said the “chippies” do the same thing day in, day out.  They don’t get to be a landscaper one day and a carpenter the next.  It’s 365 days a year of hammering timber.

He was also very fortunate to be given advice by said builder about his future career choices.  I was thrilled to learn this and hope our son takes on board the wise counsel of our friend.  He’s very lucky to have someone who cares enough to help.

Post work experience, we learned that next term the boys need to make subject choices for Year 11 (and ultimately Year 12).  WHAT!!  Naturally our thoughts and discussions turned to the challenge this presents, and how hard it is to guide our children in a world that moves so fast, and is a long way from our school leaving some 30 odd years ago.  As someone said, the jobs they may have when they’re 20 probably don’t even exist yet.  And we know they may well have 3 or 4 different career paths in their lifetime.  So we jumped at the chance for any guidance that “experts” can provide our sons and us during this decision process.  We want to be sure they make the best possible choices for themselves, with the knowledge of all the opportunities that are available to them.  And the objectivity that a 3rd party provides when they think their parents don’t know anything can’t hurt either!!!

So hands up who is doing now what they started when they left school?  Have you changed careers, by choice, or by circumstance?  Did you end up doing what you said you wanted to do when you were younger (doctor, nurse, vet)?  Or do you have any tips for us or the boys?   I’d love to hear from you.

PS.  We just endured another round of Parent-Teacher interviews.  It can be a trying experience, especially with one of the men-children.  The Joys (or not) of Parent-Teacher Interviews.