The other day we took the children to Waitrose cafe for a treat (how terribly posh!?). As we sat, dragging the standards down, a dad and his son who looked about 11 sat at the table next to us ( I assume it was a Dad and son, it was definitely a preteen boy and his responsible adult).
As I sat sipping my free coffee I overheard part of their conversation “Do you have homework this weekend?” “Yes” “Well, we’ll get it done when we get in… It’s important you work hard” “Why?” “Well if you don’t, you’ll end up with some crummy job. You don’t want to work in a shop or something crummy like that do you?”
“something inaudible” “You want to go to university, you’ll have great fun”*
That snippet of conversation made me sad and a little mad on a few counts and not just because the tone in the Dad’s voice made it seem like working in a shop was the worst thing this boy could ever do with his life. “You kicked a dog? Nevermind” “You work in a shop? Why you crummy little good for nothing…”
I am totally for letting our children believe they can be anything they want to be . ANYTHING. They can be an astronaut, a teacher, a shop assistant, a waitress, a dental nurse. ANYTHING. We’ve just got to remind them that whatever they choose won’t make them better or worse than anyone else. It’s sad that the adult was instilling into the child that the shop assistant was only such because they didn’t try hard enough at life. If it wasn’t for the lowly shop assistant WHO WOULD SELL HIM HIS ELDERFLOWER AND POMEGRANATE JUICE EH???
The other thing that really sat uncomfortably with me was what if this boy didn’t WANT to go to university in the future? Not everyone does, but would he have the niggling feeling that he was letting his Dad down because he isn’t aspiring to greatness? Will he be considered a failure, deemed to have not worked hard enough? He is basically being told that you work hard, go to university and get a ‘good’ job or you don’t work hard and you get a ‘crummy’ job. Or. There are two very different kinds of people, hard workers and slackers. That’s not how life is. Some people work hard, have ‘menial’ jobs and earn less money. They’re happy because they have a great home and family life. Some people work hard, have great careers, earn lots of money and are terribly unhappy because they’re too busy to enjoy their life and family.
Us adults need to remember that we’re also responsible for moulding the minds of our small humans. We’re responsible for making sure our children grow up nice, kind and open minded. We’re responsible for making sure our children treat EVERYONE with respect and as equals. We need to remember that throw away comments can manifest and grow in a negative way.
I wanted to say to that little boy “Yes go home and do your homework, try your best at everything you do but remember, you’re just a child. It doesn’t last long so just enjoy it. And when you grow up, do whatever you want to do as long as it makes you happy. Be the best you, you can be.” *Or as my brain heard it “Son, you can either be an obnoxious twat like me or someone who serves obnoxious twats”