When Career Counseling and Fatherhood Go Awry.


I’m a Career Counselor.  I meet all kinds of clients.  As you might imagine, these clients are interested in all kinds of jobs.  I love the variety, and based on client evaluations, I’m doing right by them.

But things aren’t always so cheery.

I’m privy to unsettling workplace dynamics, especially the collision between one’s work and personal life.  Many of us arrive home saddled with regret and anger.   Over what?  Just about anything, from unfair labor practices to that bastard who left the breakroom looking like a hyena den.

Clean it up people!

Most things are better left at work–we know this.  Blind to my own advice, I make the huge mistake of taking my work home.  I ask my 4-year-old about his career aspirations.

Tuesday, 5:47pm, Stepping Out of the Car

I’m greeted by my hollering son.  He’s racing into the driveway to greet me and, because of this, I’m the happiest man on the planet.

Dah-deeee!  Dah-deee!”  He’s innocently clinging to my leg, preventing forward progress, forestalling dinner.  Famished, I pick-up the boy.

“You home from work?”

We head to the front door, “Yup, I’m home from work, my man.  I helped some people today.  Did some push-ups at lunch, too.”

“Silly Dah-deee.  You going back to work?”  He wants to make sure I’m home for good.

“Work’s over for today, my man.  How was camp?  Were you a good boy?”

We eagerly catch up with one another over dinner like it’s the 1950s.  Call me Ward Cleaver.

Hi son!  Do you like my facade?!

6:22pm, Nearing the End of Our Meal

I fall into reverie, recounting a previous conversation with a client.  The boy somehow senses my disengagement.  He begins acting-out at the table, bubbling-up his milk, a grotesque lactose volcano.  I let it go until he’s whipped up a real froth, no longer milk, what now seems like millions of cloudy spheres spilling onto his plate.  Intervention becomes paramount.

I shake myself clear and it just comes out, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Not a second passes.  He hits me with it, “Drink beer and watch scary movies, like you, Dad.”

“Ummm….”  I’m out for the count.  Mommy rolls her eyes at me with practiced precision.

“What Dad?”  As if to say, what’s wrong with that?

“Uh.  Not sure that’s a job title, son.”  Barely back on my feet.  My flustered expression reveals discomfort.

“Oh.”  He’s a little downtrodden.

“I’m sure there’s a liberal arts program out there for it, though.  We’ll look into it some day, my man.”

“Ok!”  He’s reassured, and blissfully unaware of liberal arts curricula.

9:16pm, I Moonlight

Everyone is in bed.  I begin my second job, cracking a beer with The Shining (1980).  Kubrickian symmetry fills the den, Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta forebodes Jack Torrance’s descent into madness.  Goodnight.  Sleep tight.

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4 Responses to When Career Counseling and Fatherhood Go Awry.

  1. Good to see you realized your error right away. Personally, I wouldn’t ask a 32-year old what he wants to be when he grows up. I would probably get the same answer.

  2. Your account of the unfolding of that particular evening is all too familiar. My son hasn’t strung together the beer-movie observation yet, but I’ll take this post as a heads up.

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