Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Willing workers! August 24, 2012

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filingLast school holidays the boys were lucky enough to get a couple of days work at my employer. It was not at all planned, just fortuitous that someone asked if the men-children would be interested in a few days casual work over the holidays. And subject to an acceptable hourly rate (like they were in a position to negotiate) and suitable days that worked in with their busy social lives (again, let’s not be difficult), they gladly accepted the offer.

Yes a reminder to all they are both still UNEMPLOYED!!! Not by choice on anyone’s part although I suspect one has stopped really looking for a job….and the other has found one which we won’t allow so he has us over a barrel. Nevertheless, I remind them every time we provide a handout that they DO need to find a job. And I remind them again every time they whinge when I ask for a chore to be completed in exchange for said handout. It’s relentless really.

As an aside, have you ever seen the way a teenage boy hangs out a load of washing? There is no method. Whichever order they pull it out of the washing machine is the same order they throw it over the clothes-horse. And I mean throw! Clearly they have no idea what a coat-hanger was invented for, as I invariably find all the shirts thrown on the line, not hanging……seriously, are they really that stupid, or are they employing the age-old trick of burning the first thing you ever cook so you’ll never be asked to do it again? Probably. 🙂 And it kind of works, because I practically re-hang all the washing after they’ve attempted to do it. I mean if their school shirts don’t drip dry on a coat-hanger then they end up extra, extra wrinkled, which is no good if the ironing lady hasn’t been, because they don’t get ironed otherwise. And then they go off to school looking like they’ve slept in their school uniforms for a week. (Actually one manages this look every day even if his clothes are all pressed).

Anyway, back to their short-term employment. We organised which days they would attend, which meant coming with me in the car to the office and home again. And getting up before midday! Luckily there was an immediate upside for both – extra hours on the L-plates, so no complaints there. As I take my lunch to work every day (I am so glad this culture now exists universally), I explained to them that they too could take their lunch, or pay for it with their “wages”. I told them I refused to fund their meals, when they were earning money, and that what was good enough for me and all my colleagues was also good enough for them. We did make a supermarket stop to load up on snacks, treats, drinks etc to keep them going throughout the day, but that’s just pantry filling in another guise.

Naturally they were quick to embrace the “freebies” provided at the office, the usual tea, coffee, biscuits etc. Before they had even started their working day they were wolfing down a glass of Milo each and a couple of biscuits. It reminded me of the time they first came into Qantas Club with me. You would have thought they’d never had Coca Cola before they way they drank out of the pre-mix machine. If they could have tapped it straight into their mouths they would have. It was hysterical and embarrassing at the same time (although I did just pretend I had no idea whose children they were).

To the men-children’s credit they put in a couple of good days work. They didn’t complain about the drudgery of the tasks they were asked to do (electronic filing, photocopying, tear sheets etc), they worked diligently, knocking off the set tasks in good time, and they remembered their manners. As an employer you couldn’t ask for more than that. Occasionally whilst working they did found time to argue with each other, as they tend to do….to be honest they sounded just like a couple of old men who have nothing better to do than throw barbs at each other all day as they sit and watch the world go by. I swear if they both live to 90 this scene may well repeat itself.

As a mother, I couldn’t ask for more than the compliments they both received from my colleagues in the days that followed. All parents know, regardless of what little shits they can be at home, if they know how to behave in “company”, that’s all that matters.

So would they do it again? Yep. Would the company have them back? Yep. That’s a good start isn’t it? Filling their days AND making money over the holidays has benefits for everyone. 🙂

You can read about their previous employment-seeking exploits here: Man-child I was convinced to try “pyramid-selling”, and Man-child II wanted to work selling burgers midnight to dawn to drunks!


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.