Anyone with young kids will know the familiar bedtime routine that robs you of every spare minute before 9pm. One such evening a few months ago, after the kids were tucked up and I was heading downstairs I heard the familiar ‘ping’ indicating a new email had arrived on my iPhone. Reaching for it as I descended the stairs I did a double take when I saw that it was from my 11 year daughter – “Daddy, can you come and talk to me…”
So i spin round and head for her room. And the conversation goes something like this:
Laura: “My foot really hurts”
Me: “Oh really? Thats not good, show me. Ill rub it better for you sweetie”
Out comes said foot
Laura: “It really hurts here..” Points to part of foot and starts to cry
Me: “Gosh, is it really that bad?”
Laura: “Well, it’s my new shoes.. they are rubbing my foot..” Begins to sob
Me: “Hey, come on, its not the end of the world. We can take them back if they hurt you and get another pair”
Laura: “No we can’t. And its going to be my fault because i chose them and they dont fit properly…”
Can no longer speak she is sobbing so much.
Me: “Don’t be silly, why cant we take them back?”
Laura: “because you dont have a job………….”
It’s a fine line to tread in terms of how much you involve your kids in your daily angst, especially issues like unemployment. I don’t want my kids growing up ignorant of what life is all about, taking things and others for granted and ending up the local spoilt brat. But then again, I want then to have a childhood. I want to protect them, give them the chance to explore their innocence and not lie awake at night fretting about things that really should not be on their radar.
Of course, this angst is all driven from within me, from my personal experiences. At that very moment, when she said those words, it hits me like wall and in an instant I’m back to my own childhood. I was acutely aware of my fathers two periods of unemployment – once when in was 7 amd then again when I was 13. And I dont use the word acute lightly. We went from a life of ignorant normality to one of having nothing. Benefits didn’t really figure in the equation and I remember the second time being the most impactful. We ate the same thing pretty much every day – bacon, egg and chips – all bought cheaply and in bulk from the local farmer!
As an emerging teenager I was finding my emotional feet and just becoming interested in the fairer sex. I can tell you, there is nothing that crushes your self esteem as much as having the fact that you only posess one pair of trousers and one jumper – for both school and knocking about – in front of the girl you are trying to impress. The embarrassment. The humiliation. The teasing. The slow but constant crushing of my self confidence before it ever had a chance to emerge.
Those years took a significant toll on my self esteem and it’s only really in the last 10 years that I have come to terms with the impact it had on my life and my levels of self confidence. Despite having a very successful and varied (if not a little crazy!) career, I was dogged in the early days by thoughts that it would all go horribly wrong, especially when it was going well. It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t felt the sensation. I know there is a term for it somewhere but I don’t recall what it is.
Anyway, it is this very experience that came flooding back in my daughters room that night. As I come back to reality and the memories fade, I pull her to me (my son also joins in – he’s 8 and often choses to sleep with his sister they love each others company so much) and we all share a hug and a tear in silence. After a moment, i look her in the eye:
Me: “Dont worry poppet, we will get the shoes if you need them. Things are not that bad! And anyway, I’ve got lots of friends out there looking out for me so I’m sure it will be ok”
Laura: “Are they your friends from Twitter?”
Me: “Well, I guess so yes…”
Laura: “They sound like nice people…”
Me: “Yes. They are.”
5 months after that conversation and things are very different, as many of you will know. Where my journey of self employment will go I have no idea, but so far it’s proving to be a great one. And I have to say, nearly everything im involved in has, in some way shape or form, come from Twitter or my presence on it.
Twitter + Contacts = Relationships = Friends = Opportunity.
P.S. The shoes were fine. It appears the pain was more emotional. 🙂