Susan's Blog

Friday, February 29, 2008

Call Me Mammie

Space: the final frontier.
–Captain James T. Kirk

Sorry, Trekkies everywhere. Kirk had it way wrong, in my opinion. The final frontier in my universe is Work. I think about work a lot these days, because I don’t have enough of it, because Max needs a summer job, and because I want Nat to be able to work as an adult.

It has been quite a challenge, getting Max to understand that he will have to work someday soon and that he probably will not love his first jobs. I have been very careful to refer to what I do as “work,” which it is, albeit piecemeal and strange hours. I’ll write intensely from 10p.m. until I fall asleep. Thanks to the the sleep guide I read I am getting better sleep but it’s difficult since I work all through lunch trying to sell whatever I wrote, but then sit around making meals, appointments, phone calls, conversation, and checking email while they’re all here. I don’t know if my boys understand that what I do is work and that if I did not, we would have to pay someone a lot of money to do it all for us. (My pay is a cossie a month and other perks, I suppose.)

Everytime I suggest various job possibilities to Max — tutoring my friends’ kids in computer skills, working at a game store, being a computer camp counselor — he makes that face that looks as though he smells something bad. I even suggested he get the same job in the same place as H, his lovely girlfriend, and he would not consider it, because it is something to do with gardening. (Oh, how terrible that would be, to spend your summer gardening for others…!)

Am I supposed to take that on, too? When I was sixteen, I remember getting my own damned jobs. I drove around to movie theatres and to Friendly’s, asked to speak to unhappy managers and tried to demonstrate my competence and capability at those crap jobs. It was hard, but I did it. Woke up at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and wrenched myself into a God awful polyester blue checked dress to work the morning shift, making the salad fixings at Friendly’s, with a mean girl and her older sister. I stunk of pancakes and bacon.

Will Max do stuff like that? How were my parents that consistently tough with me? They were such total adults. I wish I were.

Sometimes I think maybe I save all of that kind of effort for Nat. I am going to have to become Hurricane Susan, plowing through any place that I think could possibly hire him, and explain him to them, and broker a job. Is that how it’s done? I can’t imagine that anyone out there would do it for him other than me. Once he’s done with school, once the entitlements end, it feels like we will be swimming in shark-infested waters.

Well, I’ll be damned if all of his years of hard work and education get him eaten alive. That just makes me see red. I feel a rage building up inside of me, that things are this way in this country. That people like Nat are viewed as lesser somehow, and undeserving of the extra effort it takes even to get to know them, let alone to help them work.

Then Ned says to me, “Why does he gotta work?”
And I say that he does, he does. It’s what I want. It’s what I always imagined, long after I gave up on other things. I want to see him going to a job, having that in his life.
Ned says, “Why can’t he just do what he does? Be a man of leisure.”
I don’t know, I don’t know. Stop challenging me, Ned! Because! Because if I let this go, it feels like giving up on something. Yet another thing.

Well, not while dere’s still bref in mah body…


If Max drives, you can motivate him to get a job by telling him that he has to buy his own gas. That approach works pretty well for a lot of families.

As for Nat, does he have any particular interests or activities that might be adapted to fit into a job setting?

— added by abfh on Friday, February 29, 2008 at 3:10 pm

What we did was stop paying for (fill in the blank)…

For one kid it was gas, the other it was clothes (don’t ask). We did it matter of factly, “now that you are 17 we are no longer paying for gas” and avoided the j-word (job).

After all, money is what motivates us before the love of work! Good luck, he’ll get a job if/when he has to.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, February 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm

My boyfriend always thought I should work, too. (I’m autistic).
Then after my diagnosis he thought about it for a long time. Then when I finally did get a jobcoach (parents don’t (always) have to do that fight here, my jobcoach does the things for me that you describe), he came to the conclusion that I didn’t have to work.

He told me if it was for money, we would be fine if I didn’t have a job too. If it was because he or other people thought I should work, that I shouldn’t work for that reason if I didn’t want to, either.

Truth is I did want to work, especially the work I do now, because I just like it, it’s one of my interests (not to mention living on disability income is a hard way to get by). But I didn’t like the way people always used to push me, because I was of this-and-that age so I should be working, and be able to find a job myself and be able to handle a full-time workweek and basically function the exact same way as a NT.

— added by Norah on Friday, February 29, 2008 at 4:32 pm

All good thoughts, thank you so much! Although Max cares not for driving, there are other ways… mwahahaha!

Norah, I hope the same goes for us. Good for you, finding something that you want to do with your life and doing it! We should all be so lucky and wise.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, February 29, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Ugh. A fellow parent trying to encourage their teenager to get a job. As for me, I shoveled driveways when I was 7 years old, pruned an apple orchard at 11, and worked at an apothecary from 13 to 17. From there I was a roofer, worked the 11 PM – 7 AM shift at the Howard Johnson hotel, and went to college when I could manage to stay awake.

I’m in the same boat with my kids. Neither have a job. What’s with that?! Is it because our society gives our kids too much, are we getting lazier, or as parents we’re not instilling a work ethic?

— added by Don on Friday, February 29, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Sorry, it is not society that gives them too much it i is the parents, it is US.

A work ethic cannot be instilled, it is based upon needing money…who is giving them money? The parents, US!

It isn’t about work ethic being instilled, it is about taking responsibility. How does responsibility get taught? Natural consequences. “I’d like to give you a ride to the mall but unfortunately I cannot, because the chores aren’t done” for example.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, February 29, 2008 at 7:33 pm

It definitly depends on the children… I am 21 now and started babysitting and nannying when I was fifteen because I loved it! If someone told me to go work in a kitchen I would have said no… My brother is 18 and my mom is trying desperately to get him to work… she’s trying the game store approach since he loves games but he is not budging. Teen boys these days have little motivation when it comes to work.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, February 29, 2008 at 8:11 pm

The Friendly’s on the Post Rd. in Westport? My kids love that place! — Cathy in CT

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Hey Susan! I’m so sorry it’s been such a long time since I last posted! Through Newton’s Understanding Our Differences program, I got a glimpse of what the (completely independent) life of a grown man with Down’s syndrome entails. His first job was with Legal Seafoods, and Legal Seafoods’ founder (I’ve forgotten his name now)championed his work, tirelessly advocated for him, and made himself available to this man personally and professionally to an extent that was so inspiring to me. Do you think that might be a good venue for Nat? I’ve gotta tell you — I was walking on air after that particular UOD training. It was SO inspiring! And this man with Down’s was not super high-functioning, but he lived a life that we NTs could aspire to. I just know there are great things — and opportunities — in store for all 3 of your gorgeous boys!
love, TPeacock

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, March 2, 2008 at 12:09 pm

I had to get a job when I wanted more than the 10$ I got per week for lunch/snacks at school. That was motivation enough.

I didn’t even have a car until I could save up and buy one for myself, so the whole gas thing wasn’t even an issue.

— added by Shannon Brooke Davis on Monday, March 3, 2008 at 12:48 pm

i am agree with abfh.

— added by unknown on Friday, July 25, 2008 at 5:46 am

i go along abfh.

— added by unknown person on Friday, July 25, 2008 at 5:47 am

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