As the end of the year draws near we all like to partake in a little ‘wrap-up’ of the events of the past twelve months. This year has been a particularly busy one for me so I haven’t quite gotten around to it. However, last year around this time I published this blog on Web Child. Happily – for me and the kids – the outcome this year has been somewhat similar, so a man in a red suit is going to pop in and visit us tonight. 🙂
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my friends – old and new. For those of you with kids, give yourself a little pat on the back this week – for surviving another year, if nothing else.
A Job Well Done
From a Human Resources (HR) perspective, parenting is nothing short of a nightmare – even with the fabulously euphemistic jargon at the HR manager’s disposal it’s a hard job to sell. Starting with a simultaneously vague yet overwhelmingly detailed job description the position is startlingly underpaid and often undervalued. The hours are long and the conditions can, at times, verge on the inhumane. I often find myself wondering at the incredible number of applicants for the position. But this week I have found a fringe benefit which would make any HR specialist rub their hands with glee.
But first, let’s take a little walk through the position of Creative Director and Supervisor of Human Life (short job title – Mum or Dad). This position often starts with the delightfully named HR initiative known as a Love Contract Policy – a contract created especially for two employees who are in a ‘consensual dating relationship’. Okay, now imagine that these two employees take on a joint task – let’s call it ‘Project Offspring’. In a dramatic oversight this particular project is undertaken without an induction period, with all training being done ‘on-the-job’.
As part of the project the team must take a significant salary cut while their hours quadruple and their conditions plummet. It is often at this point that the company dress code and grooming standards fly out the window. The Project has no defined completion date but at any stage the project managers may decide to outsource some of the requirements of the project. This is where networking comes to the fore. A comprehensive industry network which includes other similarly placed professionals as well as senior level managers is the sanity saver for many employees.
Of course the position is not without benefits – the first gummy smiles, the sight of chubby legs running in the park, toddler pigtails, big eyes and sleeping faces are just a few. But, in actual fact, the benefits are too numerous and intangible to describe adequately. What I have found, however, is that it is this intangibility which sometimes makes the job so hard. Where is the evidence that the project is working? Who is providing the pat on the back, the handshake, the ‘job well done’ speech?
Well, fellow employees, this week I was the proud recipient of a positive Performance Appraisal – at least that’s the way I’m going to view Indiana and Levi’s end of year school report.
I think I have a reasonable level of involvement with my kids’ schooling. I maintain a pleasant relationship with their teachers and love to say ‘hi’ when I do the school pickup or canteen duty. Luke and I oversee the homework and reading tasks. We go to sports carnivals and concerts when we can. But, last month, when Levi was going through a particularly cheeky stage I blurted out, after one exasperating evening, “I hope you’re not like this at school.” Seeing him freeze in the glare of my parental headlights I seized the moment. “So, have you been in any trouble? You might as well tell me because I have canteen this week and I will ask your teacher,” I said in my most sinister tone. “And you know,” I continued, “Your reports are coming out very soon and I will find out everything.”
“Well…,” came the tiny whisper, “I got in trouble last week for writing on my desk.” Sensing future anti-social behaviour I issued forth with my usual ‘blah, blah’ lecture about other people’s property. A week later, I found myself despairing during a virtual re-run of the above scene where it transpired that Levi had once more been in trouble for writing on his desk. I scolded in my typical, exaggerated fashion, “OK, that’s it. If you get a bad school report this year I’m cancelling Christmas!”
So this week we had Report Day. It turns out that Levi’s career as a graffiti artist was merely the end result of a couple of particularly enthusiastic bouts of colouring-in which exceeded the limits of the paper. It also turns out that both my kids are doing well at school, and – more importantly to me – are respectful and considerate members of their classes. My chest puffed up as I read about their scholarly and social achievements. The bedtime stories I have treated them to since they were newborns have helped create two dedicated and passionate readers. And the constant lectures about manners and respect seem to be sinking in. I am happy to take this as evidence of a job well done – and, just quietly, I am very proud of them both. Being a parent can sometimes feel like a thankless task so I say we take our plaudits where we can.
And there’s an added, end-of-year bonus – as Levi reminded us all when I congratulated him on this year’s performance – “Hey! Mum’s not cancelling Christmas!”