My kids get to see me being a mother every day. They see that job. They know that I have another job that earns the money that pays for the Legos, sneakers and the froyo...but do they have any idea what I actually DO at work? I want my children to see work as a positive thing, not drudgery, so I try to talk to them about my job.
I don’t exactly have the kind of job that my six year old understands: fire fighter, doctor, teacher, recycling truck driver, astronaut, veterinarian, lady in the window at the bank who hands out lollipops (her current career choice). "Internal communications analyst for a regional health system"...um, yeah.
Granted, it's pretty far from the future career I had planned for myself when I was six: a ballerina who was also Mrs. Donny Osmond. (Too late to be a ballerina, but Donny, if you're reading this, call me!)
We drive past my workplace on the way to school. She points it out as "Mommy's hospital" and asks which window is mine. One day, an ambulance came out of the ER bay and we had to pull over.
Something seemed to click for her. She said, "Ambulances come and get you if you are sick and need to get to the hospital in a hurry. Do you help the ambulance people when they get to the hospital?"
"Not exactly. I help the doctors and nurses use their computers."
"So when someone breaks their leg or feels really sick, the ambulance takes them to the hospital..."
"The doctors and nurses fix their leg or whatever...and when they feel better, you teach them how to use a computer?"
Sure, baby. Let's go with that.
It's not like it's any better when we try to talk about Daddy's job--he manages intellectual property for a research foundation. Try to explain patenting an amino acid to a first grader! However, he does have a PhD and she has heard people call him "Doctor," so we TOTALLY pulled a fast one on her when she had a big splinter in her foot--Daddy was allowed to take it out because he's a doctor.
I shouldn't worry because I didn’t understand my mother’s work. I understood my dad's job perfectly--he was a veterinarian. I saw him shoving pills down cow throats and operating on cats. My mother worked for the Department of Family and Children Services. All I comprehended about her job was that she had a desk chair that could spin around and a calculator I could use to spell "BOOBS" (just punch in 8-0-0-8-2. You’re welcome.).