2.15.2009

Exemplary work

All parents worry about setting a good example for their children, and it isn't always easy.

Children are watchful little rascals, and they have impeccable timing. Do something you've cautioned them against -- drinking directly from the milk carton, for instance -- and they will walk in on you in mid-guzzle. Guaranteed. If you drop a brick on your foot, and unleash a string of curses, you can bet your child will be within earshot. If you're drunkenly watching porn late at night, long after they should be asleep -- well, you get the idea.

Being a parent is more than not getting caught engaging in bad habits, however. It's also teaching good behavior to the kids. Personal hygiene, for instance. Good study habits. Using one's blinker. Avoiding a life of crime.

One important area is teaching them how to work. We want our kids to become responsible, job-holding adults, so they can afford high-quality elder care for us in years to come.

We teach our kids to work by showing them how we work hard ourselves, and that’s where I’ve got a problem.

I spent more than twenty years toiling at newspapers, but our two sons barely remember those days. What they know is that Dad has survived the past decade by pecking away at a home computer, doing household chores and sponging off their hard-working Mom. Sure, Dad has written a whole shelf full of books, and he travels a lot and gives lectures and his columns have appeared in newspapers all over, but the boys don't register all that. What they see is a grown man who has no job.

To them, that's a role model to emulate.

Our younger son came home from school to find me pounding the keyboard, trying to meet a deadline. He didn't notice the frantic nature of the work. What he noted was that I was still in my pajamas.

"You never got dressed today?" he asked.

I muttered something about how I hadn't showered, either.

"That's a good day right there!" he crowed, and he sounded exactly like me.

3 comments:

clitav said...

Ahh.. The Good Life! Did you manage to eat? Or must you suffer also? :)

Philbert said...

Steve, you're my hero.

Anonymous said...

I've always known that kid was a genius.
-Jas.