Every parent or teacher has them; those moments where a lesson chooses its own time and you simply have to capitalize on the opportunity presented to take advantage of it.
Being not employed has presented a lot of those moments for my kids that would not be there otherwise. We’ve actually had some pretty remarkable conversations about budgeting, money and what is involved in getting a job, keeping a job and the types of job a person can do and the amount of money a person makes at a given job.
My oldest is in the 5th grade, and each passing year brings a bit more anxiety about his future. He is remarkably intelligent in so many ways, and yet has not learned to tie his own shoes or use the mustard without drowning his hot dog. It is a mixture of fear and amazement. I suppose this is true of all parents, but for those of us with someone who is exceptional it is even more so. We wonder if our kids will be able to live independently without setting fire to their apartment, or if they will be able to hold a job or safely drive a car.
So today, my oldest insisted that I needed to get a job tomorrow in order that we might be able to travel again and put an end to all this talk about not having enough money to do things. He opened his almanac and was looking up the richest men in the world, and had a host of suggestions for me, including working for Microsoft and Walmart.
This lead to a discussion of getting skills necessary to get a job. When he suggested working for Ford Motor Company, I explained about how I might need to be trained as a mechanic to be able to afford to take care of him and the rest of the family. His younger brother chimed in at the prospect of working for various fast food places. While these are certainly prospects, I explained that they might not be the best prospects and explained how wages were linked to qualifications and skills which were linked to doing well in school.
I can tell that both boys are in deep thought about the job issue and have concerns about it. Last week, my youngest postulated about what it might be like living under a bridge somewhere! I explained that because we had been wise with our money when we had plenty, we would be okay for awhile while looking for a job, which led to a discussion about saving money and why we do it and how to do it.
And one reason why we are okay (not great, but okay) at the moment was because of the lessons my own parents taught me about money and debt while growing up on the farm. We never had a lot, and my parents made it clear that it took a lot of work to make money and not to take it for granted. I remember when being about the age of my own kids we did not always have the latest toys, clothes or things. Most people would have regarded us as poor, but I never thought we were. I knew other people who were more poor and a few who were pretty well off. Where I grew up, school teachers were regarded as among the well-off!
So as a family we’re learning a few things and hopefully the best lessons will hang around for awhile while we move on. And hopefully we’ll move on before things get so bad we’re contemplating a move under the bridge!