Thursday, August 05, 2010

Oh the pain, the utter humiliation!

Erik was in a bit of a flutter this afternoon.  This is a fairly normal state for him - poor thing has inherited the notorious "molehill into a mountain" DNA gene 485 from both parents...  Apparently, there was talk today of what the parents of children in the class do for work, and the teacher has suggested that the children should choose one of their parents careers and dress up the way that parent does for work at some point in the future (details were not forthcoming, so we're waiting on a notice from said teacher now)...

"No problem!" we told the boy.  Dad is a graphic artist and mum is a writer, he can choose one of those.

"Problem" he countered.  Neither of us is currently "employed"...

Apparently, the definition of "employed" includes actually receiving a wage for time and services.

Hmmmm, I'm SURE this is not how we've raised this child.  I've been wracking my brain over this for hours.  We've done all the right stuff, you know, NOT paid him for doing chores around the house, discussed and modelled for him "doing" out of the kindness of your heart or simply because something NEEDS to be done - even if an extrinsic reward is NOT forthcoming...

I tried explaining to him that 97% of Australia writers do NOT earn enough from writing to support themselves (I consider myself to be in this category as I am most definitely published and HAVE received financial recompense for my effort).  I pointed out that my own supervisor, who just published her 16th novel, has had to work as a supervisor and lecturer to support her career as a writer and I'm sure she considers herself first and foremost a WRITER, not a lecturer or supervisor.

I guess he could go to school dressed as an unemployed bum.  Yes, emotive language, but it seems he's tapped into the detestable image of unemployment as being for lazy, no-good, welfare happy, bludgers.  Certainly, he seemed embarrassed that neither of us was definitively employed, even though this is not our choice.

This is, frankly, a bit of a worry for someone as artistically inclined as this child is.  Will he abandon his art because being an artist isn't a "real job"?  And is this what we aim for, as a society, a place where contributing to the community without receiving a wage or being labeled an employee is devalued.  This might go some way to explaining why volunteer numbers are so low.

Anyway, to get around Erik's shame of our universal unemployed status, I've decided to commission a book cover of Dave, and pay him (probably only a nominal fee, because let's face it, I'm currently definitively unemployed) and then he can say he's a paid graphic artist and Erik can dress up as him (lumpy jumper and all)...

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Teenagers and the failing parent...