Tuesday, June 16, 2009

6/16/09 Getting the job done

Last night, tired of Julian's excuses and complaints for not setting the table (it's his week, lord help me), I told a fabricated story about work, that went something like this: Me and my coworker Carol both needed some papers from John to get our jobs done: "But John didn't finish in time. When our boss asked me and Carol if our work was ready, I said, 'No, because John didn't give me his papers.' But you know what Carol said? She said --" I gave them a cliffhanger pause "-- YES." I tried to let the power of that one word hang and gave them a knowing face.

"But how?" Julian asked. I answered, "Because found what she needed anyway, and she got the job done. *I* just told the boss that it wasn't my fault and gave him a bunch of excuses and reasons. But Carol got her job done." More pauses. Then, brainstorm: "And you know what? The boss KNOWS John didn't do his work! And he knows that Carol got her job done even though John didn't help her! John got in trouble, I got nothing -- but Carol got a gold star."

I was trying to teach a lesson about taking responsibility, like getting the table set even though someone is "distracting" you (Julian's best excuse, he's not even very creative). Still, I felt like I was engaging in one of these "magazine moments" -- parenting advice touted by adults, but is lost on kids. Julian seemed to take this in for a few minutes, before the borderline bathroom talk started up again. There's only so much poop-free talk two little boys can take.

Driving home tonight, Julian asked me if "John" bothered me at work today. I said no, but a computer program did (it's true, the newest version of MS Word froze on me at least 5 times today). Then, when we got home and entered the kitchen, Julian said something so miraculous I thought I'd just entered a parallel world: "I'm going to set the table RIGHT NOW so that I get the JOB DONE no matter what!!" And he did. Straight out of a magazine! Even if it never happens again, I'm encouraged.



Louise said...

This is great!

If you really do have a co-worker named John, I think you should tell him this story. Then he can feel proud of his role in being the "bad guy" for a teachable moment.

You can also tell your kids that when you write about how they have done something really great like set the table, clean up, use the big potty, help their siblings, etc., your blog readers are really happy. We *love* to read about cooperative kids :-) They are Famous on the Internet.

(Okay, maybe that isn't much motivation for the under-12 set, but who knows?)

mommieN. said...

Hah, no, John is fictional. Carol isn't though, she's one of the best engineers I've ever worked with. But it's loosely true; I did have an "ah-hah" moment early on in my career when I quit being a kid and started being a grownup, when my boss gave me the wrong FAX number to order some equipment. Not my fault if the stuff is late, right? I finally cottoned on: go GET the right number, dork! DEAL with it!

I love to read about cooperative kids too, but even better is writing about them. Unfortunately, it's truly rare that I get to do that!

However, the "the blogosphere is watching you..." angle is one I haven't tried yet -- good idea!

Louise said...

Don't get me wrong, I don't want you to stop writing about their uncooperative days. While it's hard to read your frustration sometimes (I just want to offer a hug and a glass of wine!), it really makes the triumphs sweeter.

Oh, and now I say that we've "graduated" from work, rather than "retired."