Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Is That What He Thinks I Do?

The other day I was piloting our vehicle around while Hank pondered in the backseat, wondering aloud about different kinds of work he might like, and whether he could do various jobs when he grew up. For example, he wants to go through the swinging doors in Publix, the doors back by the lobsters, and I told him that only people who work at Publix go back there. He asked if he could possibly work at a grocery store one day, and I told him that he surely could if he wanted to--that he could probably do whatever job he wants when he grows up.

He said, "Mom, why did you want to grow up and not do anything?"

I kid you not. That's what he said, just as sweetly and sincerely as can be. His honesty just floors me. FLOORS.

I thought, "Oh God this is a great moment, thank you for this moment on Earth," and I said, "Is that what you think I do?" He said yes.

I said, "Well, first of all, I take care of you and Laura. And Daddy." He made no response.

So I launched into, "And I've also almost finished writing a kind of book that will let me teach college. Teach school." I tried to put the whole concept into preschooler terms. I think I used the word "dissertation." He listened politely.

Then he said, "That's not a real job."

I was so loving my life at this point. I asked him to please expand, what did he mean, pray tell?

He said, "A job is important." He put such particular emphasis on this word, only in his pronunciation it came out "im-PWAWR-tant." And his tone was nearly exasperated, just so barely patient with my ignorance.

Of course I prompted him further. So what jobs does Hank regard as important? They are, in his exact words:

1. Working on electrical wires.
2. Making tires.
3. Fixing toys.
4. Putting dead peoples' bodies in the ground.

I worked him over a little bit on the "mom job" and talked up my extensive experience in nurturing, administration, and domestic engineering. I asked him if that sounded important and finally talked him up to a "half important and half not important" rating.

I think I need better PR? Or I need to learn a trade.

Edited to add: Matt felt I should clarify that "this was not a conversation someone made up and put in a child's mouth to make a point," that these were indeed the actual unprompted words that issued forth from his face. Let it thus be clarified.

24 comments:

Beth said...

That is amazing. I'm floored, too. You definitely need better PR!!! In other news, my 3 year old was messing around in his room at bedtime, and when I asked him what he was doing, he said, "Killing." I was taken aback and then asked, "Killing what?" To which he replied, all exasperated like I'm sure Hank was, "My opponent!" Who, by the by, turned out to be his teddy bear.

Crystal Keilers said...

I was observing in a third grade classroom a few months ago and the teacher told the class if they wanted their parents to come to the party later that afternoon they could call them. And one little girl (the brightest in the class, I might add) said, "Yeah I know my mom can come." To which the teacher replied, "Does she work?" And she said, "No, she just stays home and watches the pets and plants." We almost fell over!

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Ah, Matt, no qualifying is necessary. We've been reading Becky long enough to know she's the real deal and puts no words in anyone's mouth.

Alrighty then. So Becky? I think, and sit down for this one, you've got an err, err, SON on your hands. A true-blue, rootin' tootin' male.

When I was pg, I hoped for a girl and was momentarily crestfallen to learn he was a boy. Because girls are, you know, so great. But I got over it quickly. What didn't change is that boys are different! Mud. Lasers. Crashing. Bashing. Constant sound effects. So in Hank's eyes, if you don't drive a bulldozer, well, then, step aside.

puncturedbicycle said...

Surely that's because a 'real job' is foreign and exotic and glamorous and takes place somewhere alluringly mysterious and grownup -somewhere where Hank isn't allowed. The domestic world is very ordinary to him, the opposite of a job.

A crushing assessment for sure, but I wouldn't read too much into it.

Or you could retrain as an undertaker. (Or a gravedigger. I'm not sure which Hank has in mind.)

mmeperpetua said...

Ah man, I just got myself to the point where I've re-convinced myself that my dissertation is impwarwtant, and now Hank goes and undoes all my work. Maybe he's been hanging around my MIL? Pretty much the same exact words have come out of her mouth at one point. :)

Jenni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenni said...

Oscar once asked me why I didn't go to work and I told him my work was taking care of him and Miles. I asked him a little while later what my job was, just to see what he'd say. DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID?? "Your job is putting dinner on the table." I shit you not. You can't make this stuff up

Amy said...

That was so hilarious. Seriously. My favorite is his list of "impwawtant" jobs--putting dead people in the ground!??! Where does he get this stuff? Though, I would have to agree, that IS an important job!

I agree...his idea of a job is getting to wear something cool and going behind the swinging doors. Maybe you could wear a uniform? Or at least a tool belt?

After I read this, I asked Nate if I had a job and what it was. "Lookin' after us" was his answer. I couldn't get him to tell me if that was important or not.

I love Hank!

Melissa said...

That boy is FUNNY!

Kelly said...

Oh Hank....Love it. He is just precious!

Christine said...

Several years ago when my youngest son was in nursery school, the teachers interviewed the kids as to what their moms do when the kids are at school. The teachers typed up the responses and put them in our Mother's Day cards. The responses for "working" and "stay at home" moms were equally hilarious. There were some "nothings." One kid says his mom eats pizza and talks about shoes all day at work. One stay at home mom's kid said she watches scary movies and plays his DS. I think they all have a skewed sense of what our "work" is.

Camp Papa said...

Hank and I walked down the hill to watch some men put in a new culvert at the neighbor's place. There was a backhoe involved. After a few minutes he declared, "I want to work with those guys when I grow up!"

Veronica said...

Uh-oh. I think you should work the "when Mama goes back to work Hank will have to go to school all the days of the week" angle.

gretchen said...

I love Hank. That child just kills me. Putting dead people in the ground?! Where did he get that?

Jude, I'm afraid, has had a poor example set for him, in that for both his parents, work entails "playing".

Jane said...

Ouch. Well, at least you got him up to "half important."

Michele R said...

I think that Lawyer Mom and Christine are spot on. Unless it is super obvious and action-packed, boys don’t realize what is work. Like when I had to remind my hubs all the hours of paperwork I do paying bills, reading bills, etc.
And like Christine says, Kids just say the darnest things. Like when they get to writing those fill in the blanks cute papers for Mom such as “My mom is 7 feet tall and weighs 834 pounds and is 71 years old and can touch her nose with the tip of her tongue.”

The Messy Mom said...

Too funny and I agree that no clarification is necessary for anyone who has or works with kids. You would love this article from an editor that lets her 4 year old critique celebrity fashions and quotes her verbatim. It's so cute.
babble.com/celebrity/celebrity-style/kids-rate-celebrity-style

Keely said...

It's funny that we're a culture that defines ourselves by what we "do". It's the first thing we ask someone when we meet them. Guess it starts early :)

The Stiletto Mom said...

Oh my. Puts the dead bodies in the ground? That is truly one for the ages and something you may need to bring up at his college graduation!

Julie at ModernDayMiddleAge said...

Shoot me, that is so cute! I'm so glad you are recording this to embarrass him later ...

Michele said...

You know that if you do jobs number 1 through 3 wrong you'll need someone that is good at job number 4. I'm just sayin'

Judy said...

When Michael and Heather moved to the DC area, Heather found a job with the DOT right smack in the middle of DC monuments. Sammi was 6 yrs old and announced that Mommy's job was more important than Daddy's (gov't computer analyst) because HER job was next to the Washington Monument. And, Julie at ModernDay, I speak from my vast experience of raising 2 precious boys into extraordinary men: Hank won't ever be embarrassed by those comments...

Sjn said...

LOL, from the mouth of babes as they say!
so... just curious about gender roles here... does he think Matt's job is important? (Even though it's none of the 4 he mentioned)
Thx for making me laugh today!

Sara said...

I was wondering the very thing Sjn asked.
Maybe he was just trying to get your goat a little. Kids are sneaky like that.