I had one of those proud mum moments today. One of those moments when you can look back and see that the little things along the way have cumulated into a seminal moment.
My youngest went for a job interview today for his first job in the industry he is studying in. Now while I won’t get too far ahead of myself because he hasn’t been offered the job (yet!) but that’s not really the point.
You see my 23-year-old hasn’t always followed a traditional path. As a baby he was diagnosed with low muscle tone which means he uses more energy than most to do the basics like walking, reaching, running and the like. I was told that he would take a lot longer to reach the major milestones as a youngster but as adult it wouldn’t be noticeable. He didn’t crawl but boy he could get some speed as he bum-shuffled. He didn’t walk until he was two. But most memorably when I picked him up he would sink into every crevice of my arm, neck and shoulder. It was sooo lovely. That boy knows how to cuddle!
But more to the point, I was warned by the paediatrician that he would be labelled as lazy. Interestingly pre his school years he loved to watch videos (he could turn on the TV, load the Power Rangers into the VCR and get the bean bag into position before he could walk or talk) and the suggestion of doing something active like going for a swim or playing with his siblings or his cousins was often met with great resistance but once he got into a regular routine with school and therefore a little older, he was no different to any other active kid his age.
As he went through school his “laziness” came out differently to what I expected. He decided very early that if he couldn’t see the point of doing something, he pretty much refused to do it. School work was one of these things. He would do the bare minimum to get through each year and as you would expect his school reports consistently included how he was lovely but lazy, had potential if he just did the work, would do well if he spent as much energy on his schoolwork as he did in the playground. As he entered his later primary school years, I tried to get him into the local all-boys school thinking it would better suit his learning style but he didn’t get accepted.
In high school he did the same - the bare minimum to get through. However, this was now added with a continuous stream of frustrations such as “why do I have to interpret this poem – clearly the poet knew what he meant”. “Who cares what I think about that painting? Why do I have to waste my time writing about this?” "Why do I have to write this story that no one’s ever going to read?” and on and on and on it went. So instead, he would head to the skatepark, train for soccer and continue to do as little as possible.
And then in year 11 he decided he wanted to go to university and study science and IT. Suddenly he had a purpose. For the first time ever, he would prioritise doing homework over riding his skateboard. He would say no to going out with friends if he had an assignment to do and he even skipped a trip down to the coast to get his schoolwork done. And sure enough he got into university – Melbourne University. His university of choice.
He later fell in love and has since moved to ANU. He got this job interview because he got sick of working in retail and so has been pursuing opportunities in his field of study. He put himself on Air Tasker and build a few PCB Boards – something he self-taught himself along the way (and don’t worry I still don’t understand what a PCB board is either!). He’s also currently doing an internship (that he was given after applying for the same job twice and then asking for the opportunity to learn the job for free when he was knocked back for the second time). For this current job he enquired about a vacancy and then asked if they make PCB Boards and lo and behold, they do and are trying to find people to fill this role.
So, if he gets this job (and they are referee checking as we speak) at 23 my “lazy” child is about to land a technical job that is exceptionally well paid and supports the last few years of his electrical engineering studies.
So, if you have a child who is also lazy, unfocussed, unorganised or generally disinterested in their future, keep the hope alive. They will find their path. They are more resourceful than you think. They have more resilience than you expect and when they find a focus, trust that they will know exactly what to do. Trusting them and their judgement is the best gift we can hand to them.
PS While I don’t want to take the credit for my youngest’s resourcefulness there is no doubt that our parenting has an influence on our kids and their future! I have previously written a blog on the parenting lessons I learnt as I navigated the world a single mother in a new city with no friends and limited family. It’s one of the most popular blogs I’ve written. If you have a child like my youngest you might be interested to check it out here.