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March 02, 2009

Family Business

Family Business

By Harley

Lately my son’s come home from school with little pieces of paper on which he’s written, in first grade handwriting,13-digit numbers. ISBN numbers. My son mistakenly calls them “FBI numbers” but he knows what they’re for: to track down books. He’s discovered that the library is a great place to shop around and determine which books to acquire. Because he knows that while Mommy has an inexplicable (and completely stupid) aversion to Toys R Us, she never says no to books. Even wildly expensive ones like Felix Explores Planet Earth.

The school librarian, naturally, is delighted—not every 6-year old can discuss hardcovers, paperbacks, literary agents, revisions, acknowledgment pages, author photos, the amount of time needed for a manuscript to become a book, the dollar amount an author might reasonably expect as an advance, and the number of payments that’s divided into. But my kids know this. They’ve been “writing” their own books since before they knew their alphabet. Writing books, along with laundry and dishes and practicing law, is what people do. It’s the family business.

In my childhood, the family business was teaching music. My mom was a university professor, which meant we knew Brahm’s 4th from Beethoven’s 3rd, could hum Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (by Moat-sart, not Moze-art) and recognize the Kodaly (that’s Ko-DIE) hand signals. Because her field was elementary music education, we also had a nodding acquaintance with Bruno Bettleheim, Carl Orff, and Jean Piaget. And college politics: one night a Nebraska football coach drove out to our farmhouse to plead with my mom to pass one of his players who’d enrolled in her class and neglected to ever show up. (Mom declined. My brother Pete nearly threw himself into the path of an oncoming train.) 

Not that we appreciated her professional achievements, anymore than the plumber’s kids kvell over the family toilets. Friends on the phone would say, “What’s that in the background? Are you listening to opera?” Embarrassed, we’d say, “No, that’s my mom practicing for her dumb recital. And it’s not opera, it’s Schumann lieder.”

(Lest you’re impressed, let me add that no Kozak can change the oil in her/his car, discuss calculus, or use a power drill.)

My own kids may become lawyers or writers, but if they want to be child actors, they picked the wrong mom. This is due to Negative Family Business Syndrome.

In 2002, when my twins were born, the nurse gave their names to the casting director on FRIENDS. Infant actors—twins or triplets—were needed to play Jennifer Aniston’s baby. Ha! I’d acted with enough newborn babies to know it’s no fun for them. And anyway, since my twins were normal birth weight, I also knew they weren’t small enough. Nor were they identical enough to double for each other. Rejection? No thanks.

 But this is LA, so it’s ongoing. In Target, talent scouts will stop my kids with, “Hey, you’re awfully cute, how’d you like to be in a Disney movie, just like Hannah Montana?”

I want to assault these people. Instead, I explain I’m not spending my life and my kids’ childhood in LA traffic, nagging them to do homework in the car while memorizing lines, only to hear them told, “Sorry, you’re too tall/short/fat/thin/old to be cute anymore.” Then I explain to my kids that 800 others will be at the audition (cattle call) meaning lots of waiting in line. Like Disneyland, but without ice cream or Splash Mountain.

How about you? Did you go into the family business, or run for the hills? And do you want your kids following in your footsteps?

Happy Monday!   



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My dad was a truck driver (who won the 1990 National Championship--sort of an Olympics of events for truckers). My mom was an administrative assistant. Both begged me to get a business degree because "you never know" when you'll need it. I refused, and went the art, then the writing direction.

Then married someone, who promptly started a construction business and I've been doing business and accounting ever since.

And writing. Constantly, always writing.

Both our sons worked for us for a little while. Our oldest is now a SWAT officer and our youngest is currently in school to be a firefighter. Something about working with us inspired them to want to have jobs where they could run into bullets or burning buildings. We might need to rethink some of that on-the-job training.

I can't even begin to guess what my kids will be when they grow up, Toni. But I'll have to get a lot tougher if I end up with SWAT people and firefighters. Good grief!

I'm not in the family business I come from a long line of ministers. DH is a retired police officer.

I've held more jobs than I could possibly list here but my favorite was in construction where I worked for a tile mechanic. I'd come home filthy, exhausted, but satisfied because I could actually see how much we'd accomplished in a day. I had to quit due to a spinal injury. Now I write every minute I can.

I have no children to follow in my footsteps which is probably a good thing.

Harley - first off, bravo for not pimping out your kids. Sorry, but we have an acquaintance who drags her kid to LA every year for cattle calls. Do not tell me that a 4-year-old 'wants' to do that. Bull. His MOM has delusions of fame and fortune. Makes me puke.

I come from salespeople, and my Mom was a teacher and a homemaker. Tom's Dad was career Texaco and his Mom was a homemaker. He and I are both lawyers. Our daughter runs screaming at the thought, but our son is already perfecting his negotiating skills. Not sure how I feel about it, so I'm pulling a Scarlett and thinking about that tomorrow.

P.S. Your son may be a psychic. Keep an eye on the Supremes - they may end up FBI numbers if we're not vigilant.

I’ve come from the family of mining engineers (both Mom and Dad) and they never wanted me to become one so I ended up to become a pure mathematician which help me to apply to many different jobs (they thought I was smart enough being a mathematician). Now I’m working with educational exchange programs and I love my job (no mathematics required) just because I love working with people. My late husband had a PhD in mathematics and economics so we secretly hoped that our son would specialize in economics or something like that. But we never ever insisted on it. As it happens our son is a computer genius (nothing to do with mathematics, believe me) and will be an IT specialist. So no family business so far.

Both of my parents had advertising careers, so when I was an English major who needed to make some cash to support my husband in medical school and residency, choosing the ad biz was a no-brainer for me. At the time, I actually had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. It only took me something like 20 years to answer the call to ministry.

Somehow I doubt that either of my kids will follow in my footsteps, and I doubt they'll choose medicine either. I can see my daughter doing something with words, but not writing ad copy. And my son likes science and math, but my bet is he'll do what his father would actually like to do instead of medicine -- software design or whatever high tech jobs exist in 20 or so years.

I think the future is in farming, frankly. All of my ancestors were good at that, so I hope the gene bubbles up in one of my kids in case we all end up having to live off the land again.

"Harley Jane.... Harley Jane... What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? (pause) Leave the gun; take the cannolis. (pause) Today I take care of all Family Business..."

Oh, wait.... too early for movie quotes....:)

I think it is wonderful your son knows his way around a library at his age. With an English teacher for a mother, we knew the old Dewey Decimal System before the multiplication tables were mastered. Personally, when I found out what a bookstore was, where one did not have to give the books back.... THAT was the moment a lifetime obsession was born.

I was in the third grade before I learned that not every father in the world carried a gun; mine did, my uncle did, all my friends dads did. It was a genuine world-shaking shock to learn there were fathers who didn't carry guns as a matter of routine. And when I learned there were people who would not allow guns in their homes.... well, that was just weird.

I was damn near disowned when I went Corporate instead of the FBI Academy. Time passed, tempis fuggited, things changed, and a friend now calls me a "Geek with a Gun".

You can run but you can't hide from the Family Business....

In my family, talent skips a generation. My Dad with manual labor, cutting, repairing and building - I better at egghead thinks like writing e-mail and obtaining grant proposals.

I was always drawn to arts & entertainment, my Dad and his family to either building houses or cars or furniture.

In the perfect world, the variety of talent in a family, should combine for world peace, but in reality land - one must work harder to maintain peace within the family.

My father worked for years at GE as a draftsman, then quit in his 40s, after 9 kids, and started his own business painting and wallpapering. He was great with his hands, and could fix everything around the house. My Mom worked as a secretary after the kids got older. I did learn a lot from my dad, and do most of my own painting and wallpapering at home. I used to go to work with him in the summer, and I was the trusty assistant.

I am currently working for a food broker doing sales analysis. Somehow I always end up doing numbers, though I don't consider myself the numbers type at all. My daughter is majoring in her mother's dream job, library science.

I grew up with a corporate dad in the 60s--we moved across the country every few years whenever he got a promotion. I went to 3 elementary schools, 2 junior high schools and 2 high schools. My brother and sister had the same. Not one of us went into a career that would involve moving (unless we wanted to). While the three of us live in different p[arts of the country, we each live in old houses (nothing like the subdivisions we grew up in) where our kids were able to graduate from high school with some of the same kids they started kindergarten with. I don't think it was accidental that we all wanted to provide that stability for our children.

Of course, our kids may end up hopscotching across the country for the adventure of it!

Laura in PA, want to come to LA and help me with some wallpaper borders for the kids' rooms?

William, I cannot believe I wrote something called The Family Business without mentioning The Godfather. All I know for sure is that when we have to go to the mattresses, everyone here will be packing books.

And Peg H. mis-read your comment at first and thought you had to quit construction due to a spiritual injury. I like the idea of spiritual standards for carpenters!

Good for you, Harley, refusing to expose your children to the misery of modeling.
I come from a long line of women who were homemakers, but I knew early on that was not the life for me. Mom tried to send me to a college where women wore white gloves, learned to pour tea and become good corporate wives. She wanted me to marry a stockbroker. I refused and worked my way through the college of my choice proofreading medical books.
I am much happier married to another writer. White gloves have been long out of style.

It's interesting how many of our mothers worked. That's not necessarily typical. My mom worked in the 50's and 60's (and on) as a clerk at an insurance company, a company that I ended up an agent for in the 70's and 80's. That's as close as I got.

My husband is a second-generation wildlife photographer in a true family business. He and his two brothers all worked for their dad, and now he owns the company and his brother works for him. Everyone in the family, and any friend he can conscript, has been in at least one of his films, and our girls worked in various capacities for their dad. One daughter helped do the books, and they both fed animals when necessary. (We've raised practically every mammal known to this part of the US). The youngest has come the closest to continuing; she took photography in school, but is now going for a PhD in neuro-biology. Because both their dad and I write, they all three have written, including a couple times for pay. And my oldest daughter now teaches at the college level, following in my teaching footsteps.

Harley, I'm seriously impressed that your kids are that well-versed in the writing life, and agree that pimping them out would be disastrous. My middle daughter thought she wanted to be an actress for a long time, and I really discouraged her, and for the same reasons. They do listen to mom, sometimes. ;-)

Yay, Elaine - good for you. You probably knew more than the doctors after reading all the books.

Harley, as I look out my window at the snow that closed my office today, I would like nothing more than to come to LA and put up borders in every room if you wish. Border-hanging in kids' rooms is actually a service I've been called on to perform frequently for friends and relations.

yes, but Laura, it's been in the high 80's here, so we'll have to crank up the air conditioning to do it. Is that a problem?

My parents encouraged my desire to be a teacher. He and mom had finished 8th grade, normal for their generation, but they were pleased and proud to have a daughter go to college. I have a niece and a great-niece thinking of going into teaching, and I've watched several former students enter the profession as well.

My mom was a legal secretary so I guess in that sense I went into the family business. Certainly I was around law and law firms from a young age. I then married a lawyer whose father and grandfather were lawyers. If my kids become lawyers, that's fine with me. It is such a versatile profession and one that can truly be used for the public good. Both my kids excel at math and science, so if they end up going that route, I'd be happy, too.

As for kids modeling or doing tv, I think that's a lot about the money. I used to get approached in NYC when my older one was an infant because he had real Gerber baby looks. I never considered it for a second, but then we didn't need the money. I have a cousin who has twins and does some modeling with them. She needs the money, simple as that.

My brother and I were working full time and in our 20's before we ever talked about being a lawyer like dad. I never said anything about wanting us in the business. We did learn quite a bit from being raised by a lawyer; read every line before you sign the paper, "You can put anything on your tax form you want, just remember it is very pretty in Leavenworth in the spring time." (That was after dad needed to spend the day at Leavenworth visiting a client who had done just that.), If you do not follow your lawyers advice, bad things may happen. (That was after he needed to explain to a client that your second arrest for ANYTHING means getting deported and no I can't get you out of it.)

Mom was a St. Louis County Juvenile Officer. She never wanted us in that business, although she did point out the benefit package associated with a government job. Consider a typical day for a DFS case worker, a job that requires a masters degree and pays less than $40,000 a year; on call 24/7, a case load of 30 when your course work says 18 is about as many as you can handle, and if you make a mistake, a child could end up dead and you end up on the front page. Passed on that one.

My mom was a registered nurse that worked the night shift in a nursing home. As I was growing up, we used to hear about her exciting nights and view the results on her nurse's uniform as we ate breakfast. Needless to say, I did not follow in her footsteps and neither did my sister.

Problem being in high 80s and air conditioning? Not in the LEAST.

There's definitely money in child modeling or TV, but most of it has to go into a trust fund for the child (a very good thing) and you only earn it once you get the job. The enormous amount of traffic and the amount of competition in a place like LA, the lifestyle of a kid constantly going on auditions affects the whole family. A few kids are born to do this and thrive on it. Others do it for a time, then lose interest, when they grow tired of missing out on soccer or band or sleepovers. And some are pushed into it to live out their parent's unfulfilled dreams. The hours and energy required of the parents is substantial; for most, it's not a cost-effective way to make money.

While I didn't follow my parents' footsteps, my husband definitely did. He is a fourth generation farmer, and he loves this life. Usually, he enjoys all the decisions, work, and results. This year, thing are a lot tighter, and since we have grown peanuts in the past, the recent peanut frenzy really hurt. But we are diversified enough that we are getting by. Now I don't really think our daughter is going to decide farming is for her, but she will know enough to wisely manage the land she will inherit.

My mother and my grandmother were both artists, although my grandmother didn't rate her talent as highly as all of us who still want her hooked rugs which were done with such fine strips of bias-cut wools and with such beautiful designs that they are like oriental carpets in quality. My mom went to the Art Student's League and was good.
It only took me 45 years to realize that I needed to accept the mantle, as well.

I did interview Josh Hutchenson last April, the young actor from "Bridge to Terabithia" and "Zathura." At the age of 15, he was a class act who lived with his family in Kentucky.

While Josh's father was near by, the young man had a poise that I hope to achieve one day. I did stump him with this question,

"Are you aware that when you are my age, you will be still getting mail from middle school students because of your work in movies like "Bridge to Terabithia?"

Sadly, Josh may be part of the minority in the world of young actors, actresses, super models and potential teen athletes, that struggle to understand the fine line between fantasy and reality.

Great post!

My grandmother always said she wanted a writer in the family. She was a lover of books and could not conceive a profession more noble or exciting.

So she encouraged my mom and aunt, quizzing them constantly with Reader's Digest INCREASE YOUR WORD POWER vocabulary quizzes, and telling them on a regular basis that she always wanted a writer in the family.

My mother and my aunt are both wonderful writers, but were never inspired to make it their profession. (Although my mom did manage to rake in LOTS of grant money with her writing ability to help underprivileged kids at the child development center where she worked.) Helping kids was her first love, and her ability to write (and stellar vocabulary, thank you READERS DIGEST) enabled her to do that.

My gut instinct is that my grandmother was probably was a writer herself -- but one whose talent and ambition did not have a chance to be fulfilled. She had a family to support and kids to raise. I think maybe that's why she so fervently wanted a writer in the family.

I knew from the time I was very young that I was a writer, and could never imagine doing anything else. And while it did give me a huge sense of pleasure to know that I was going to be a writer, and that my grandmother's wish would be fulfilled, I would have been a writer even if my grandmother had always wanted a firefighter in the family, or a doctor, or a taxidermist. When I published my first book, I dedicated it to my grandmother. She died when I was 8, long before it became clear that being a writer was where I was headed, but I feel certain that she knows.

As for following in the family business, I think I do, and I hope my kids will as well: In our family, the most important lesson handed down was that your work should bring you great joy -- that you should do what feeds your soul.

And of course, it's always nice to have a writer in the family.


Wow - so many of you had working Mom's! Mine did secretarial work until she and Dad started having kids, then did the stay-home Mom bit. She should have had formal art training from an early age, and eventually became an accomplished painter and quilter.

Dad was an engineer through and through, even when he left mechanical engineering and went to work as a land developer. I think I inherited his creative fix-it mentality, and only wish he'd been liberated enough to teach me how to use tools and build things when I was young.

I ended up as a Biology professor, which made them both proud (and relieved, I think, as they never could quite grasp what I'd be doing after finishing grad school). For all that she was raised by an academic scientist, my daughter was neither academically nor scientifically inclined. I am delighted, though, that after a few years of floundering, she is back in school preparing to be a high school social sciences teacher.

So "school" could be the family business, I guess - especially since my husband is a librarian . . .

My dad was in grocery mgmt - my mom a secretary in engineering at US Steel before I was born...My brother and I are engineers. We always kid thatit's kind of like keeping it in the family, since my mom worked in the same field while she was pregnant with me, that I'm in now...

My daughter has inherited my math and science skills, along with her dad's ability to create and visualize. She used to say that no way does she want to sit in a cube like me, and work with numbers all day, so she would never be an engineer.. But now that she's trying to choose a career, she is looking to go into the family business! At least in general - there all all kinds of engineers, and she may end up in more of a design-type than a number-crunching type...

And as a side issue - I know I have a skewed perspective. I went to school to learn engineering, to be an engineer, and use what I learned (well mostly what I learned). Same as doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers. But most people do not have this direct correlation between college major and jobs.

So my question is, how do you pick a major your interested in, knowing that you will probably not work in that area directly? Say history, English Lit, Poly Sci? Now I know some people do work directly in those fields, but many don't. This is an issue I am struggling with while trying to help my daughter pick a major, a college, and career. And part of the reason I can make engineering look more attractive to her. (I guess that's part of the reason we keep fields in the family- along with a natural ability for certain tasks, and learned history.) Any thoughts on this?

I just can't believe you've got talent agents swarming Target out there...

And I can't believe the level of achievement and education among this bunch.

Sarah, it's true. This is an industry town with an insatiable need for talent, and young talent has a short lifespan. I've had 4 Target encounters. The last one "targeted" my 6-year old daughter, saying, "Hey, you've got a really great tomboy look going on there! Ever thought about acting?" What gets me is that they talk directly to the kids, just like TV cereal commercials.

Toni - Congratulations to your Dad! I work for a large trucking company, and the National Truck Driving Championships are big news here!

If you want more details...My mother worked in retail sales and then as a secretary. Her mother was the first woman ticket salesperson for the NY railroad. Her father was a brakeman for the railroad.

My grandfather on my father's side was not only a minister but he was also a farmer.

DH mother's side worked in the coal mines. His mother was a homemaker. His father worked on the line at Mack Trucks and so did he for 16 years before becoming a police officer.

I can't really claim a professional family business. I come from a line of lawyers (my dad and maternal granddad), farmers (my paternal grandparents), teaching (my maternal grandmother) and medical technology (my mom before she married my dad). Even though my parents had been in the law and medical fields, they never forced my sisters and me to be in either. They only wanted us to enjoy what we did.

Also both my parents told us all the time that we could do and be anything we wanted and to challenge ourselves. My mom went so far as to advise me to not take typing in high school because I wasn't going to need it. (Ironically most jobs I've had involved using typewriters and personal computers.)

My older sis went the BA in business route and my middle sis was a mother full-time until the chicks left the nest and is now taking courses in history and writing.

I had five different majors in college (ending with Anthropology/Archaeology), a variety of classes and jobs after college, finally getting a grad degree in urban and regional planning (historic preservation focus) and a job where I met my urban planner husband. I did work in that field for awhile, got bored, had various other jobs, got bored, and finally decided to write nonfiction articles. That's when I discovered I really enjoyed writing. Now I'm a novice fiction writer.

My daughter knew since high school she wanted to be an engineer, and now she's an electrical engineer with way more spendable income than we have. My son is still trying to decide what his major in college will be next year. He's more like me because of his interest in all kinds of things.

First it was marine biology and oceanography, then it was business, and now he's decided to try biochemistry. This is like coming full circle with my mom, though. She majored in chemistry and minored in microbiology in college.

The only family business I can think of is "proper manners." Being a good Southern girl, I learned all the niceties of greetings, polite conversation, minding your elders, blah blah blah. My mom and dad learned, taught it to my sisters and me, and we passed it on to our children.

I have worked at a convience store for 20 years. When my daughters were in school, during the summer breaks, I would take them to work with me. This gave me time to spend with them. It also gave them a work ethic that many kids don't have now. Now, my youngest daughter is the assistant manager at a national retail chain. She started at 17 part-time. She has worked her way up in the 10 years she has spent in the same company. Most people don't stay with same company that long. By taking her to work with me, I was able to teach her some of the skills she would use now. When she became assistant manager, I bragged to evryone who would listen.

JanetLynn wrote:
"So my question is, how do you pick a major your interested in, knowing that you will probably not work in that area directly? Say history, English Lit, Poly Sci? Now I know some people do work directly in those fields, but many don't. This is an issue I am struggling with while trying to help my daughter pick a major, a college, and career."

I do a lot of academic advising and get this question frequently. The first step is for your daughter to figure out why she wants to go to college in the first place. Is it to pursue an education that is career-focused (like engineering etc.)? If so, she needs to figure out the career first and the rest follows. If she's not focused on a specific career, she needs to have some clue about how she's going to make a living after college and the relationship between college and whatever that is. Remember that most college students change majors at least once and that most of us will have more than one career. If she's ready, willing, and able to learn and has a few subjects she's excited to be learning about, she's a step ahead of a lot of students.

Good luck!

Kerry, that's a good point and the other side of the equation. Most of us have more than one career, given our increased life spans. And that's especially true for women, many of whom have kids, drop out of one career, and then drop into a new one when the kids don't need them full-time anymore.

I feel like I've had 2 careers, acting and writing, along with motherhood, and a few dozen McJobs while waiting for my big breaks.

Soooo....the "Family Business". Doesn't that mean your family OWNS the business? And so then you go into the business so they can retire and carry on the legacy of the "Family Business"?
No mafia references here.
Just because you were a lawyer working for a law firm that you didn't OWN doesn't mean that your kid who becomes a lawyer working for a company you didn't OWN or that they don't OWN is not family continuing the "Family Business" to me.
I worked for 21 years for a mom and pop company with their two daughters. The family started the business and OWNED the business. I was an adopted daughter at 15 but did not go into their costume business until I was 39. And so I worked for someone elses' "Family Business". Even thought I was treated like family.
My dad was a shoe salesman as I mentioned before and he worked for Baker's (Quality Craft) and Burdine's here in MIami (Mi-am- ah). But he didn't OWN the store.
I worked for him on and off during the summers and spring breaks my entire life growing up. He taught me the retail business. My mom and Grandmother taught me how to sew.
But still it wasn't running the farm my grandparents bought in Miami Springs. So I didn't continue the "Family Business".
My brother went into sales. For a company he didn't OWN. So he learned retail sales from our dad like I did. But he worked for someone else.
My son is at The Boston Conservatory majoring in violin which no one in our family ever played.
I guess being a writer is being in your OWN "Family Business" as you call the shots. Or does your editor OWN you and your writing? I'm confused.
Anyways, I'm thrilled to see so many of you passing the torch to your children. Makes you proud, No?
Just saying.

I'm thinking that being a "talent agent" in LA is a lot like being a "real estate agent" among wealthy, well-educated, but unemployed empty-nester moms in upscale suburbs.

Can I just say that I think Bruno Bettelheim has a lot to say to those of us who are writers? He's good reading.

Great blog, Harley. I love your son. If you decide to sell him to the gypsies in the future, call me first, okay?

Xena, you're right. I would be thrilled if any of my kids become writers, and equally thrilled if any of them enter show biz, especially as actors. Which must sounds strange, given my refusal to put them in front of the camera now. But to me there's a world of difference between a kid doing it for fun and for free, as a means of self-expression, and entering a very high-pressure business too soon.

I'd also be very happy if they become lawyers, like their dad. Or bakers or candlestick makers. (But not butchers. I'm too much a vegetarian to get excited about that one; nevertheless, I wouldn't stand in their way.)


My dad's message to us kids...you can do anything you want, you'r just not smart enough to succeed. He never said that to us directly, but that is what he meant. He got it from his mother.

Dad was a warehouseman (worked in a parts warehouse first for Midland Ford-they were the tractor division, then for General Motors from where he retired-yes, his health care & pension are a tense topic around here these days.) and Mom was a bookkeeper. I took bookkeeping in high school, did about as well as I did in algebra, lol. I was going to go to college and get an English degree with the thought of teaching, but really wanted to write. That didn't work out so I have stayed in the bookstore field, one way or another, my adult working life. Dear Hubby's mother worked in an assisted living facility for developmentally disabled adults. She was a 'friend' to an adult, mostly she would take them shopping, to lunch, help with daily chores. His father had polio as a child and was a carpet salesman. So no advanced education until my brother-in-law (15 years younger than Dear Hubby) and our daughter. We made sure she saw the ugliness of a blue collar existance, lol, and she was determined to do better. She is a bit self-righteous at the moment, but she will lose that once she is out in the workforce a while.

My dad was a Millwright, I worked part-time in the mill for a couple of years, so wasn't going to follow in his footsteps. I could deal with the dirtiness, redneck men, etc, but the cold temps, no way.
I sort of followed in my mom's footsteps. She had a lot of clerical jobs when we were young. I am an office clerk now, have been for 16 years, before that I had my journey ticket as a typesetter. Gee, and I failed typing in school - HA to Mr. Pearson who flunked me and told me I would never get a job typing!
Okay so typing and clerical work aren't particularly glamourous but the bills get paid and vacations happen and I am second in seniority with a solid union contract.
Works for me.

Great post, Harley! Reading everyone's responses reminds me of when I was teaching at Pepperdine in the '80s and asked my students to tell what their parents and grandparents did--we filled four whiteboards with everything from steamship captain to town librarian to milliner and blacksmith. Then I asked the 23 bright young things what they wanted to be. Two young women said they didn't intend to be anything as they planned to marry and have children and not ever work. One guy said he wouldn't allow his future wife to work. The majority of the others said (I kid you not) they would be in computer science. Period.
I've had at least four careers . . . my grandfather was an oilman, but died before he could influence my generation . . . my mom was a mom, my aunts secretaries, my dad died young, stepfather musician, uncle entemologist . . . focus, family, focus! Anyway, that day at Pepperdine, I just felt so many dreams crash to the floor when the only thing on the whiteboard was 'computer scientist.' Not that I have anything against computer scientists, bless their brilliant and obsessive hearts! Just that that class seemed short on dreams and vision . . . . Hope some of the students have had a change of heart and/or career, while some have flourished in computing, software, etc.

I told my daughter that I didn't care what she took in high school. The only class she had to take was Keyboarding (typing to those of us older to remember typewriters). Her response was "I'm NOT going to be sitting in an office all day". I reminded her that computers were going to be the standard and she could make money in college typing other kids term papers. She aced it & now can't imagine not knowing how to 'keyboard'.

Congratulations, Harley, on being the anti-stage mom. But what would you do if your kids really, really wanted to act?

The family business--my dad was a botanist, my mom was a mom-turned-nursing assistant. Yuck. I hate taking care of sick people, and as far as I know, there are two kinds of trees in the world--oak and pine. My dad used to go on at length during any walk, stooping to examine spring ephemerals and tell me their scientific names, point out the differences among the 259 species of prairie grasses and tell me their scientific names, quiz me on the varieties of maple trees in neighbors' yards and tell me their scientific names. Plantus greenus, girlus boredus.

And do tell us how the wallpapering is going.

I still have this External Fixation Device on my hand, so no wallpapering until it's off (tomorrow) AND I've had a few more months of physical therapy to recover range of movement.

If my kids really want to act, there are school plays, summer productions, community theater -- same things we had in Nebraska. If it's the art that they love, that will keep them occupied for awhile. If it's dreams of stardom, fame & fortune, that can wait until they have their own driver's license. Anyhow, that's the plan for now. And none of my kids has shown any interest in acting, frankly. But that could change.

Some of the happiest people I know are bakers.

Laraine, you are a woman of rare intuition. If everyone becomes a doctor, lawyer, or Indian chief, who is going to make the widgets, clear the clogged drains, rewire the old electrical routes, or build homes? Not to mention fix all the cars everyone drives. Computer science was "the" career of the day; now it's fashion design or criminology. Just what we need: CSI's wearing designer fashions.

I only typed enough words a minute to barely pass typing in 10th grade, but typing on a computer is very different. What I found interesting about computers, back when I got my first one in 1983, knowing how to type meant that I could do my own correspondence. That's when I had my own insurance business, and could not afford a secretary. All the guys I knew had to rely on secretaries to do their clerical work; I could do it myself three times as fast, more accurately, and with a minimum of hassle. It gave me a definite edge back then over men who equated typing classes with home ec when they were in high school. Of course now kids learn to type before they go to kindergarten, so they start out knowing how to text, if nothing else. Their spelling leaves a lot to be desired, though.

School productions, and the repeated passing over of my daughter for roles thereto, is why I discouraged her from the idea. She took acting classes (at a wonderful camp put on by the Playhouse in the Park) for about six summers, and had a blast. And we even went on a cattle call audition for an Oscar Mayer commercial. But I wasn't willing to put her through that any more than once.

Oh, my goodness -- major typo! My twins weren't born in 1992, but 2002. I'm going back to fix it.

How did I manage to misplace a whole decade?

"He’s discovered that the library is a great place to shop around and determine which books to acquire." I agree,i tried this and out how it works.

by: sphin

Thanks, Kerry.

I sort of went into the family business. I am an administrative 'specialist'. Woohoo? LOL!!!

My mom was a secretary for a local company.
My maternal grandmother was a secretary for the boss of the PA LCB.
My paternal grandmother was a secretary for a boss at White Sands...shhhh...she cant talk about it, and she is gonna be 103 in June!

I would have preferred bucking the system, and going into music, but dad refused any assistance...so... now I work for a pharma company that is getting gobbled by a bigger company.

Harley...I can always help Laura! We work well together. :)

My dad is a retired Air Force SMSgt...I joined three months before he retired in 1982...I retired five years ago..so I guess I joined the family business.

I am fascinated by everyone's family history. Thanks for sharing.

My grandmother was a teacher, and both my parents were elementary school teachers. I listened to my mom bitch about teaching to my aunt (also an elementary school teacher) for YEARS so I thought it had to be the worst job in the world! My mom insisted that I go to college so I would be able to support myself but after college I wound up in the hospitality industry, which I enjoy and recommend. My daughter tried it but didn't enjoy the service aspect. She works in medical records, where her tendency for OCD makes her a meticulous, conscientious worker. She knows to work for joy, not for money.

thank you so much for bringing up this.i must say that i really like your blog i was looking forward for your next post.


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