Trying to impress the pre-teens

How can I make my son see that I – and my work – are not as deeply boring as he seems to think they are?



My son has always had a somewhat skewed view of my work. Asked what I did for a living a few years ago, he said “she just stares at the computer all day”. The other day he said that, despite school homework, he thinks he should make the most of his free time now because, judging by me, he isn’t going to have any in the future. I have been going through a period of intensive working in the last few months. Because I work from home he sees me working and stressing about computer freezes and the like. The other day I had to go on my phone to get Teams to work and then spent the meeting doing massive waves from my desk as I couldn’t see the little golden hand thingy.

In addition to the working, I’ve been doing a lot of driving of teenagers. Driving doesn’t look like leisure time to only son, even if it is the best place to have a conversation with a teen these days.

So I broke down for him the various jobs that I do and how it came to pass that I am doing a ‘portfolio career’ and how that can amount to more than a full-time job in periods of intensive working. It’s all about the flexibility, I told him. Ideally, you would have one job that was flexible and that flexible job would pay the equivalent of the full-time job you used to do which was not flexible enough.  By having several flexible jobs, however, you can flex around your life, even if it means that you are almost never not working. That’s progress for you.

I talked only son through the jobs and all the amazing people I get to talk to. It’s hard work, I said, but it’s the people who make it worthwhile. I talked him through 3D printing of organs [a student I interviewed recently]; all the industry people I’ve spoken to who are doing amazing things to push the boundaries of flexible working so he can benefit in the future; and the female astronaut I organised to speak at a recent festival. He almost sounded interested. Maybe his mum was not completely and irreversibly uncool.

I told him that some parts of work can be really, really dull, but the good thing is that, if you’re lucky enough to do a job you like, the dull things are more than compensated for by the more interesting things. Which is why it’s worth plugging away at that maths homework and reading the occasional book. I have spent almost his entire lifetime looking for books that he might find more or as interesting as Minecraft and so far I have failed. He had a brief foray into Edgar Allan Poe [it took him around a month to read one short story] and he is now saying maybe current affairs might be his thing.

I was worrying the other day that he might be listening to incels on the internet [I have had many a word about incels], but it turned out he was in fact watching a video about the Finnish education system, which he thinks is far superior to ours. He has a strong sense of justice and he thinks the UK system is deeply anti-kid, particularly when it involves PE. He has absolutely no respect whatsoever for PE teachers and is counting down the hours until he will never ever have to do PE again. He’s in year eight so there’s a bit of a way to go.

The sad thing is that he is becoming more and more jaded by the education system as he goes through it and he looks at me and thinks is this all it’s for? I feel that, despite all my efforts, I have generally failed to convey how interesting what I do is, but maybe if he read what I wrote or came to a few of the events he would change his mind. If I could just get him to read something…

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