Finding it a job to work

What do you mean ‘you’ve got a job?’, says teenager incredulously.
“A job”, I reply. “You know, that thing where you get up, go out to a place of work and actually earn some money.”
“But who’s going to look after us?” says middle son, turning a bit pale as he takes in the news. “I thought your job was looking after us.”
“It is.” I reply as I try to give him a reassuring hug. As usual middle son – who doesn’t do kisses and cuddles – is too quick for me and manages to sidle away before I can get my arms around him.
“But I want to do something else as well as looking after you.” I continue, as they all watch me with mouths wide open. “Something I’m good at. Something where I will feel valued and useful. Something where I’m not just in the house all day.”
I keep going while I have a captive audience.
“It might mean some of you have to go to breakfast club at school a few mornings a week, and possibly after school club on the odd occasion. But the job is only part-time, so I’ll still mostly be around when you’re at home.”
“Great”, says middle son, totally forgetting his fears of being abandoned. “They have chocolate cereals at breakfast club, and you get to go on the computer. When are we starting?”
“I want chocolate cereal”, pipes up teeniest, heading for the cupboard to see what he can find, only to be greeted by boring old cornflakes, weetabix and porridge.
“Does it mean you have to go and buy some new outfits”, asks daughter hopefully, already planning a girly shopping trip into town. “Let’s face it, your clothes aren’t great are they? My friends’ mums look really elegant when they are going to work. And they wear high heels.”
“Maybe”, I say, looking down at my baggy jumper, shabby jeans, and bright purple crocs, and trying to imagine how I will look dressed any other way.
“How much money will you earn a week?” asks middle son. Knowing how fond he is of juicy sums I expect he is getting ready to calculate how much that will be a month, a year, and probably a decade.
“I’m not sure yet”, I say, wondering if anyone is going to at least congratulate me on my good news. “Anyway, it’s rude to ask people what their salary is.”
“Dad told me what HE earns”, middle son brags, looking gleefully at his older siblings.
“No he didn’t”, says teenager. “No he didn’t”, says daughter.” “No he didn’t”, joins in teeniest excitedly, thinking this is going to be a good game.
I walk away from the argument, trying to focus on the beautiful bouquet of flowers husband bought me, the lovely card sent by sister-in-law and the supportive texts sent by friends when they heard I’d got a new job.
Much, much later.
“Mum – I’ve just got one question for you,” announces middle son, appearing a little irritated that he hadn’t thought of it earlier.
This ‘place of work’ that you say you’re going to. When we’re at breakfast club, or after school club or wherever we are. What will you actually be doing there?”


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