Every Monday night, for an hour and a half, the kids are at piano lessons. More accurately, the boys and I sit in a small room while Zoe spends half-an-hour learning all about middle-C and half-steps vs. whole-steps, and then I get to leave with the girl while the boys split the next hour. This means that each boy spends a total of one hour sitting on his ass.
Since I'm not a big fan of wasting time and am trying to teach my kids the importance of time-management, I've attempted to enforce a no texting/gaming/zoning out/acting like a moron policy during this hour. Instead, I have told them to use this time to either get some homework done, study for upcoming tests, or (gasp!) read something for fun.
While waiting for Zoe's lesson a few weeks ago, I noticed Charlie sitting on the couch, focusing intently on some crap that had accumulated under his thumb nail. He sat there for a full three minutes, staring at that shit like it was going to burst out and chew his face off if he so much as diverted his gaze for one second. Finally, I couldn't take it any longer. I said don't you have any homework to do? And if not, did you bring a book? And what about your other thumbnail? Isn't it going to feel neglected after you've showered the other thumb with so much attention?
He looked at me with an expression that was like what? Who are you? Why are you sitting there? What planet am I on? After he blinked a few times and his brain caught up with the current time, day, setting and my mood, he said no, no homework. None homework. Well, except for this one piece of homework, but you can't do it. I have to ask dad. Cuz dad has a job. It's about a job. Like a real job. I have to ask questions about a job, and you don't have a, well, you know, like, a...
And this is when things got precarious, and I have to admit that I kind of enjoyed watching him sit there, squirming, trying to figure out a way to describe what I do that wouldn't result in him getting pummeled over the head.
"A job. Right? Is that what you're trying to say? You need to ask dad because he gets in a car that doesn't contain a booster seat or have sliding doors and drives to a place other than the grocery store or Target and gets to hang out in a place where everyone is over five feet tall?"
"Well, yeah," he said.
Turns out that his assignment required him to interview an adult who works at a job supporting him/herself and/or a family, and ask this adult about his or her experience in the world of work. And since I didn't think that this was the best time to break into a "oh my fucking hell do you have any idea what I do for you kids all day" rant and demand that he fill in the blanks with responses like "I get to boil noodles and call it dinner. I am real good at cleaning me some pee off the toilet bowls every day and that sure does help support that there family a whole lot" I decided to not take his mom doesn't have a job stance too personally, and instead answered the questions for him as if I were his father. After all, he had the questionnaire with him and had all that extra time to kill, might as well not waste it staring at a thumbnail!
Now that the holidays are quickly approaching (Did you know the holidays are almost here? From what I've been told, I think that Christmas is just days away!), I've been thinking about Charlie's assignment, and the fact that the title SAHM goes through a major modification between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. In fact, I'll bet if I completed his questionnaire it would be pretty interesting! So I decided to do his assignment again, and maybe he can turn it in as extra credit.
What is your career/occupation/job? SAHM - Holiday Edition
What is your current job title and what exactly do you do? Holiday meal planner, which means trying to come up with several meals that are unique, festive and non-weird, but that don't require me to spend dozens of hours in the kitchen preparing something that half of the family won't eat. I am also the gift buyer, home decorator, outdoor lighting expert, excitement creator and wardrobe manager. Which means that I shop, wrap, clean, festoon, iron, shop some more, address envelopes, wait in lines and reign in aggression. Oh, and I also still do all of my other, very glamorous duties, like clean toilet bowls, which is really a suspense-filled activity this time of year because after all, some of that holiday food is kind of rich.
How many jobs have you had in your life? Five
What were they? They were those five other jobs that I had in my life before I became a SAHM.
Has changing technology affected your work life? Well, let's just say that if it weren't for being able to shop online, there would either be fewer presents under the tree or more strangers with black eyes. And being able to order my groceries online and arrange to have them delivered the day before a major holiday is pretty much on the same happiness level as Santa bringing me a truckload of vodka.
Has the economic recession affected your work life? Duh.
Why did you choose this job? Because it's so satisfying and fun -- to make fun of other people. Watching them tromp in and out of stores, stalk each other for parking spots, debate about which piece of hideous jewelry to buy for the teacher gift, scream at their overheated/overstimulated kids, wait in line for Santa, expect perfection -- it doesn't get any better than that.
What do you enjoy most about your work? Finding cool gifts for everyone is actually pretty enjoyable, but at the end of it all, throwing away the leftover cookies, sending the kids back to school and putting the Christmas tree away kicks ass. And not having to hear the word "Doorbuster" or see a Lexus with a big red bow on it for the next eleven months: euphoria.
Why is your job important to you? Because it makes my family happy, and I get to be a control freak.
What are some rewards, besides money, that you get from your job? I get to see some of the best behavior of the year come from my youngest kid because, after all, 'tis the season for bribery and the Santa card.
What new things have you had to learn to do your job? How to gift wrap a large stuffed dolphin, how to simultaneously attend a tennis lesson and a choir concert, how to find a gift that a kid asked Santa for but is no longer available domestically, how to find energy and generosity at the end of a day when all you want to do is sit down with a glass of whiskey and tell everyone else to go away already, and 5,000 other things.
How long does it take for you to get to work? Luckily for me, I live where I work. Although, this time of year it feels like I might as well be working part-time at the grocery store since it seems like I know more about their inventory than their employees do.
On average, how many hours do you work per week? On average, how many hours are there in a week? 168? Yeah, that sounds about right. Because as all parents know, even when you're sleeping there is always one ear on alert, waiting for the sound of an illness hitting a kid. And everyone knows, if an illness is going to hit a kid, it's going to happen in the middle of the night. Two days before Christmas.
What part does the computer and other technology play in your work? In addition to the obvious - online shopping, Facebook, this blog (aka therapy) - it allows me to monitor the kids' grades and most recent test scores. And depending on what I find, the amount of online shopping that I need to get done can go through a drastic reduction.