I consider myself and my wife to be hardworking people. I very much like that quality about ourselves. When I mentally went through the Unwritten Parent Manual my parents passed on to me, I remembered how they taught me and my siblings about the concept of work. Some of my best memories are from the times when my dad would bring us to his office in New York City. My dad worked during the week, and if he needed to, on the weekends. When he went in on the weekends we always had the option to tag along.
We would pile into the station wagon and listen to my dad’s stories until he parked. Then we would run down the sidewalks of Manhattan to the sky scrapper builder where he worked. While he was signing in, he would small talk it up with the security guards (he’s the master of small talk) and show off the kids he apparently always talked about. When the elevator opened up to his floor, he would introduce us to the people at the main receptionist desk, then proceed to proudly introduce us to every single person on the office. When someone would shake our hands he would say “squeeze his hand back Candice” if one of us were being shy he would say, “be polite and answer her question Jonathan.” If someone gave us a compliment he would say, “David, where is your thank you?” Finally, after talking to what felt like everyone in New York City, we would get to his office and like siblings do, we fought over who got the table, who got the pad of paper, who got the good felt tip pens. Literally everything. My dad, in his calm demeanor, would task each of us to make a story before getting pretzels from one of the carts outside. The fighting immediately ended as we were excited for the pretzel cart and we got to work. While we made our books, my dad worked. Legit worked and we saw that example. Only after he was done (not when we were done with our books), did we leave to get those seemingly delicious pretzels.
Instead of trying to reinvent a LeRoy way of doing what my dad did, I’m just copying him. When the kids come with me to work I tell them any kind of story they want to hear. When we get to the park where Viking is operating, I proudly introduce them to the coaches, making sure they give firm handshakes, answer questions, and say thank you to any kind words. Finally we head to the Viking Activity Center where they play and I crack open my laptop and work. I know they see me work because they say, “dad stop working and play with us!” When I’m done with the computer part of my work, I play with them, then they help me clean the Viking Activity Center. Only after the job is done do we leave to get some pizza at Pino’s near Boston College or a snack at Rifrullo Cafe in Brookline.
Having a living breathing example of work ethic helps with that initial definition of hard work. That is why I feel it is something every parent should incorporate in their parenting arsenal.