Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Career Paths

Last night I overheard a man drilling some go-get'er attitude into his young (around 10 - 11, I'd say) son. The son seemed somewhat interested, but also somewhat bored with the talk. The kid was a doughy sort, seemed kinda laid back. He'd just finished his Chik-fil-A sandwhich and was being chastised for eating a 2-mile-high ice cream cone, That is, chastised by the Father that BOUGHT it for him. This frustrated the crap 'outta me... Why buy the kid ice-cream if you are just going to give him a hard time about eating it? Anyway...

So, I sat and listened to the pep-talk while I cajoled Jim to eat his chicken and I tickled Miss M to keep her cheery.

The lesson I gathered from the father's extolling was that this boy, this son, should put down his ice-cream cone and put himself squarely on the road to "Giving it your ALL!". The subject was sports. The boy apparently needed to bring his "A" game up a bit to suit his father. The boy seemed less than interested by this point in the talk and sunk lower in the bench seat, still eating his ice cream.

The father then whispered conspiratorially, "You see this? This is the reason!". Without speaking, and with a gleam of riches in his eye, the father brandishes a baseball card, a Rookie card, and whispered, "BallPlayer Whatshisname STARTED at One Hundered THOUSAND Dollars a YEAR!", then he yells, "STARTED! Can you IMAGINE?!?!?!?". Then he waits, sure the son will come around, and he does.

The son sits up straighter, looks more closely at the card. The Father, realizing his fish is on the line, starts reeling in the story. He's guesstimating how much Player Whatshisname is making now, what he is worth, what he will make over a lifetime. The son steals glances at me, I think he's looking for confirmation, but I look away.

I can't help but think... That poor boy. Only 1 in several thousand ever make it to be a real ball player. Most just end up frustrated that they didn't make it. I'm sure there will be hurt feelings and lost dreams on the Father's part, too. Hopefully he won't take it out on the kid forever...one of those "you didn't make it happen" regrets.

It occurs to me too, that most kids with his cultural background don't focus on their studies, so they don't even graduate high school. His father is trying to set him on a very difficult path, and one that the kid is not currently physically ready for. It's going to be a looooong road for this kid.

I keep thinking about this kid.

Could I have blown the kid's mind if I told him what a Dentist or Lawyer makes, or even what I make for that matter. I could tell him that people with white-collar careers don't have to worry about being side-lined by blowing out a knee, tearing a rotator cuff, or some young stud coming along and stealing all his hard-won glory. Well, sometimes we do worry about that last one, but you come to terms with it pretty fast. :)

Then I realized.... I am sorta being like the Father. I'm thinking of the outliers. I've focused on the money piece. I haven't found out what this kid is actually interested in. I know nothing about his abilities. I know not everyone can be a Dr. or Lawyer, etc.

So, now I wonder, how do you help a kid find the right match. How will I help Jim when it's his turn to pick a path? I keep going back to the cliche, the "Well Rounded Child". Maybe that is the key after-all, more than a cliche - the more experiences you have, the more you can relate to and try on for a fit.

Then again, I think back on my childhood... I had LOTS of experiences. I was opened up to so many different ideas and career choices. So many that I couldn't choose. I fell into my current position because I knew I could do the job, not because I was in love.

I know now that what I really needed was someone to give me a list... A list of careers with what they do, what they typically make, and MOST IMPORTANTLY here are the high-level steps to get there. I didn't have anyone that could help me with this information. I was expected to just sort-of figure it out.

Before you suggest it.... The Guidance Counselors at my school focused on the troubled kids. They either didn't know how, or didn't care, to help me pick a path.

As a result, for several years I've thought of going back to school, so I can be what I want to be when I grow up. :) I still wish I knew what I want to be, and how to get there. Sigh.


HereWeGoAJen said...

I always think that what I want Elizabeth to be when she grows up is just a good person. I don't care what she does.

Amy said...

I know what I want Lexi to be when she grows up...happy. I don't care what it is she is doing...as long as she can honestly say, It makes me happy Mom.

MrsSpock said...

I wish someone would have mentioned to me to consider my potential paychecks when I got my anthropology degree- but I don't think I would have also wanted them to change me from my path. Also wish my well-intentioned nurse mother hadn't convinced me not to double-major in nursing. I think I will give some general good advice, but stay out of it with my kids.