Looking back, I'm going to guess that the announcement of my employment future that morning came after severe parental projection. Parental projection occurs late at night when you sit and try to figure out where your kids are heading. You project the future and then you try your darndest to prevent it. Oddly enough, I find most parents project the worst-case scenario, which is odd considering you start out projecting them as future presidents. When they get their first hit in T-ball, you suddenly see scholarship opportunities. Sometime between then and, say, 16, it all goes south.
I'm very bad at this. I spend considerable time trying to figure out where my kids are going to end up. I'm not any better at it this week because Sean told me over lunch the other day that he's down to one class at school while working fulltime. "Are you going to take classes next semester," I asked. "Probably not," he said. In my house "probably not" translates as "no."
He doesn't feel he's learning anything at school and he's probably right. Sean is pretty much a genius and he needs a real challenging class -- or classes -- that will help him get "his certs," which I think has something to do with what computer geeks need to have a comfortable life with, umm, computers.
I tried to explain that he has to look at things "long term," and that at 21, working at MPR -- even as an intern -- with some tremendously talented people who can teach him, and the possibility of a full-time gig someday -- maybe -- is a good place to be, especially since he likes it so much.
"Keep your options open," I tell him, trying to get the message through that continuing studies is a long-term solution, not a short-term one. But I don't think it's going to work out that way and I hope he knows what he's doing, and doesn't end up selling pencils on the street.
But kids don't look long-term sometimes. They look at what they're making now and what the quick payoff could be. I have a hard time relating to that because I got in the radio business working 6 days a week for $105 a week because it's the price I had to pay in the business. Survive for a few years, and things start opening up.
And things did. The folks that didn't want to make $105 a week dropped out of the business and, suddenly, paths started opening and I've done, well, OK. Nonetheless, I think about how I'm going to stay employed, until I retire 12 years, 6 months, and 13 days from now.
Smart, eh? Long-term thinking. Except that from time to time I remember that from the day I started painting a picket fence to right now, I've gone to work in the radio or news business each day, and I often think if I were to do it again, I'd go be a bush pilot in Alaska when I got out of school ... or work with Special Olympics... or build Habitat for Humanity houses ... or fly LifeFlight helicopters for next-to-nothing, and worry about the future... later.
I don't regret what I've done, but I also recognize what I didn't do.
Tonight, my oldest son, is sleeping on a sidewalk outside of the Best Buy in Oakdale, because
I hope he uses the money for classes, but maybe he'll buy some flight lessons and a ticket to Alaska instead.