The day we became boring grown-ups…
Kids have a way of keeping things real. Through one short conversation with my daughter the other day, I came to a disturbing conclusion. We are now officially classified as a boring grown-ups.
It may sound silly, but until this point, I’ve never really felt like a grown up.
I still daydream about what I’m going to do when I grow up. I still meet people and hear them talking about their job and think “hmm, I reckon I’d be pretty good at that when I grow up”.
So when Miss Sparky approached us the other night to discuss what we might present at her school on “what do your parents do for a job” afternoon, an interesting discussion ensued.
Our presence at school
First, it’s important to note that Miss Sparky is already very particular about what activities we are allowed to attend at school. It’s not that she’s ashamed or embarrassed by us, but I think she considers us to be slightly loose cannons.
She can’t trust that I won’t grab her in a bear-hug and kiss her in front of her friends. Or that Lovely Hubby might decide to rip out a big fart just to make the kids nearby laugh.
We clearly can’t be trusted.
So the possibility of actually presenting something real about ourselves to her teacher and her classmates is an activity that must be approached with great caution. I’m actually quite surprised she even mentioned it.
Normally, such an occasion would live on a note at the bottom of the school bag until the date had safely passed and it could be dropped nonchalantly on a table with a short apology.
The rules of the day
When she brings the topic up, she begins with a run-down of what the parents said last year. We are on the edge of our seats listening to a short critique of whose parents were ‘cool’ and whose parents ‘suck’. Clearly, we have some self-esteem issues and the idea of being on the ‘suck’ list is completely crushing. So we listen hard to try to form some ideas of what we could say about what we do.
She proceeds to explain that most of the ‘suck’ parents are something to do with ‘finance’. Apparently, this is the ultimate BORING! Kids rolling eyes, yawning and vowing never to do whatever the hell this job is are common themes.
Tick – we are feeling ok so far as neither of us work in finance.
The next issue is the parents who work in ‘offices’. The cringe-worthiness of this type of job is apparently off the charts boring. No-one wants these parents back this year.
Now we’re a little less confident. We both work in these dreaded ‘offices’ being spoken of.
Who is actually ‘cool’?
To try to redeem things and search for an effective hook, we ask who the ‘cool’ parents are.
Immediately crushed again, Sparky explains the coolest dad on the block is the guy who works at Atlantis. We can seem to glean out of her what he actually does at Atlantis. Apparently that’s not important. The mere fact that you are perceived to work at a magical underground kingdom filled with mermaids rates pretty high on the ‘cool’ scale.
“I’ll bet he empties the garbage or something…” mutters Lovely Hubby in an attempt to belittle the Atlantis dad’s coolness.
So then… the dreaded question comes.
“So what DO you guys actually do?”
What do we actually do?
This is it. The moment we are dreading. We so desperately want to be recognised as cool but that little voice inside of us is saying that there is absolutely nothing cool about what we actually do for a living.
I am struck off almost immediately from the cool radar. In fact, by the time I finish my short explanation, I have even bored myself into oblivion. I swear there’s been a little change in the flash in Sparky’s eyes when she looks at me and realises I’m not as cool as she thinks.
The dialogue goes something like this….
“Well sweetie, when you are a grown up, you get very used to things being a certain way. And when someone or something changes the way things are, you can get a bit sad or angry. They sometimes won’t do new things because they think the old things should still be the same. So I help them to try the new things out so they can get used to them.”
She stares vacantly at me. “But can’t you just tell them they have to do it?” she asks, clearly confused by the strange and seemingly pointless merry-go-round of what adults do everyday.
I work in Change Management by the way. I’ve never thought about how ridiculous the concept of change management is until I’ve had to explain it to a child who clearly has no concept of the option not to do as you are told!
A last-ditch attempt
We move on to Lovely Hubby who, being quite competitive, is still determined to be placed in the ‘cool’ bracket.
He launches into a story about how exciting it is to travel on planes and how much everyone loves flying. How cool it is to get kids meals and kids packs as well as the little cans of drink and toys.
So far, the jury is out. Miss Sparky is listening and nodding, a slightly nonplussed look on her face, waiting for where his job actually comes into this.
He finishes with the grand finale of “well, I help make the computer systems they use in the airport. You know, like when you check-in or when they beep you onto the plane?”
He looks at her expectantly waiting for some kudos for what he thinks sounds pretty damn cool.
“Can we tell them you are a pilot?” she asks, as if an outright lie could redeem our position in the parental coolness tree. We settle on the agreement that there’s really no need to leave work just to attend this pointless session anyway as she would hate to inconvenience our day.
The crushing reality hits.
We are officially boring grown-ups
We are officially ‘grown-ups’. And in one short conversation, we are also officially boring grown-ups as well. Not something I ever thought I would be!
And you know what. If those damn career guidance counsellors had told me back at school that there was the potential of one-day facing this situation, I think I would have put a lot more effort into having a really cool job. No-one tells you these things though do they?
It’s all about what’s going to earn you good money. Or what’s going to get you respect and recognition. Being ‘cool’ just doesn’t come into it. Even though I work with Eeyore and the Genie (check out my Workplace Casting Call blog) it’s not enough to redeem me.
Our new mission
So now I have a new mission (Lovely Hubby still thinks he’s cool so he doesn’t feel the same level of concern).
Find something to do that gets me back on that ‘cool’ radar.
Of course, I am more than likely too old for an entirely new career. But I reckon I can get some street cred with something else cool like baking the most awesome cake at the bake sale or being the funniest parent on the next school excursion.
Whatever it is, I still feel that I’m just not ready to fully embrace this ‘boring grown-ups’ tag I instantly inherited.
And neither should any of us. We need to stay true to that spirit kids have where anything less than ‘cool’ is simply unacceptable. I truly believe it’s never too late.
So have a great week doing whatever it is that you do. I’m off to sign up for a new course in being a rock star!
Keep it real grown ups!