Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rule: If appropriate, buck tradition*

So what I originally wanted to say was, "Have approximately a million jobs," but I realized that advice might not be for everyone, so I thought maybe I should say, "Don't be afraid to change jobs," but then that sounded lame and what I really meant was that things change and sometimes the way other people (like your parents) have done it is not always the best or most fulfilling way or even the safest way (though a lot of the time parents successful enough to have raised a child who reads awesome blogs like mine have pretty good advice, so I'm also not saying don't take their advice), and of course, most people of my approximate socioeconomic status and education know this is true BUT LOTS OF THEM STILL BECOME DOCTORS, LAWYERS, BUSINESS GRADS, DOUCHEBAGS MASQUERADING AS HIPSTERS (which are just yuppies with theatrical dirt applied to them trying really hard not to be yuppies) AT THEIR PARENTS' BEHEST AND THEN THEY BURN OUT AND LOOK BACK ON THEIR LIVES AND GO, "I GUESS THAT WAS NICE," "WHERE DID MY YOUTH GO," "I THINK I GET DRUNK TOO OFTEN, " OR SOMETIMES JUST "WELL, SHIT."

So I decided to condense that to the aforementioned rule. Also, for those crazies like me who always look for the footnotey asterisk:

*Appropriateness is determined by the amount of lasting happiness and education that will be accrued over the course of a lifetime without hurting others in a direct or deliberate fashion.

Anyway, I've had about a job a year since I graduated university, and the longest I've ever had a job in my life is two years (though there were long and significant breaks between the years and I will illuminate later). Of course, this makes me look like a flakey mess and people look at my resume and think, "Well that's a waste of training dollars," but I feel like an improved and robust person for it. And now I will go through them all. Yes, this will be a long post.

1.) Babysitting - Not on my resume, really, but this was just a continuation of my "hanging out with kids" streak that was going on when I was young. I didn't have very many friends my own age, partially because my parents were friends with couples who had kids who were much younger so it'd be my job to entertain them when we all got together for dinner. As I got older, it became the natural thing to do. My affinity and empathy toward children starts here. My love of Disney and make-believe doesn't hurt, either. I credit myself with teaching one of them to read, and I swear on my life that I saw another's first steps. Things I learned: I love kids. Kids will emulate everything you do or say. Kids will listen if you talk to them. There is no better way to convince a kid to do something than to tell them/demonstrate that you like it. I am not ready to have kids.

2.) Tutoring at the Chinese Language School of Minnesota - I was a Chinese School dropout, so it was funny that when my mom became a teacher that I became her teaching assistant. The one thing I retained was how to read the Chinese alphabet: a phonic alphabet that is used to teach kids what characters sound like that usually only appears in really young childrens' books and disappears in literature for youth. Most adults have forgotten the alphabet, but I still know how to read this and sound things out. To be honest, this was a volunteer thing I did in high school to enhance my college applications. Totally mom's idea. Fun regardless because I got to draw helpful illustrations on the whiteboard. Things I learned: class clowns who are also teaching assistants are sometimes the best for memorizing things. It's easier to remember things that are unexpected or funny or unexpectedly funny. Chinese is a really hard language. I have yet to be truly regretful that I do not know how to read it though.

3.) Camp counselor(ing?) and volunteering at the Science Museum of Minnesota - I did this for two summers in a row during high school. My mom was terrified that I would become a teacher (because, you know, that would be horrible. now that I'm not a teacher - or any of the other things she envisioned - she thinks maybe I should become a teacher). I loved this. I grew up with the SMM, having previously been in the summer camp program myself. I didn't automatically think I wanted to be a camp counselor, but when I needed some extra cash, this was an easy job to apply for, considering my previous history with children. I bonded with the kids over Digimon (yes, I watched Digimon on afternoon TV after school in highschool), and loved interacting with them, did not like disciplining them (though I had to sometimes), and loved watching them learn. For a perspective on the capacity in which I volunteered, check this. Things I learned: My current favorite child demographic is the 6 to 8-year-olds. They're old enough to understand a lot of things, but young enough to accept most reason and authority. Kids are way more smart and forgiving than you will ever know. I had a group of kids clamoring for my individual attention and yelling my name and they all, without communicating, became aware of what they were doing, and started mocking themselves by saying my name over and over in annoying voices. I lowered my clipboard (an SMM staff ubiquity), and all I could say was, "You guys are so awesome." Teaching is best done through love and through display of love and fascination. Digimon is a terrible show. Siblings will cover for each other even when the infraction is against the other. There are some weird allergies out there.

*Phew* That was a lot for only my first three jobs. I guess we can call this the "children edition" or something. I'll post more jobs later.

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