Where did my son go?

Then, my son helped me decorate sugar cookies. Now, he makes longboards.

Then, my son read Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Now, he reads Jesus Calling.

Then, my son wore Nike clothes. Now, he wears black skinny jeans.

Then, my son sat with us during the evenings. Now, he stays in his room.

Usually.

Then, my son played Call of Duty. Now, he has a retail job.

Then, my son listened to the radio. Now, he streams Spotify.

Then, my son reached up for hugs. Now, he walks by me.

Says nothing.

Then, my son needed a ride. Now, he drives his own car.

Then, my son accepted his world. Now, he is seeking his place in it.

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Boost Your Quiet Son’s Confidence. Build His Resumé.

My son is one of those quiet guys. Doesn’t talk a lot. Doesn’t like to brag. Has some good ideas about life and basically has his head on straight, but lacks confidence in himself.  So when it comes to getting out there and finding a new job, pursuing an opportunity, or promoting himself, he’s a little reserved.

Recently, he decided he needed more work hours this summer, so he decided to apply at the “adventure zone” place in town. They didn’t need an application, only a resumé, which he didn’t have. So he found some online templates and got to work.

The education section of the resumé came first. It was easy. Graduated from high school in 2016. Has one year completed at a local technical community college earning his general education credits plus a few hours in audio engineering.

Next, work experience. He listed his current job, a clerk at a gourmet kitchen store at the downtown riverfront shopping complex. He handles sales, straightens displays, stocks inventory, cleans. He even occasionally earns free perks like espresso sets when he sells a pricey Le Creuset crock, for example. In addition, he’s the only male on staff,  and the store manager relies on him for heavy lifting, basic carpentry, repairs, and other chores.  I must say that he wears the uniform, a black chef’s apron, well.

After that, he added his first job, a year-and-a-half stint as a sales associate at a GAP outlet. He thought back on all that the job entailed: lots of folding, ringing up sales, answering questions, attending the fitting room. He figured out a way to put all that into a descriptive sentence or two.

And then he was stumped. Two jobs weren’t enough, he acknowledged. Well, I nudged, now is when you really think about everything — and I mean everything — that you’ve done or have experience in, and realize that it counts, too. Don’t underestimate your accomplishments. 

Soon, he remembered that a few months ago, an old friend had asked him to help out with his band, a local foursome that performs country covers, a couple of their own songs, and a handful of funk favorites. My son agreed to help out. He handled the tracks, helped with set-up, and made the shows run smoother. However, because it was a job with a friend, he had downplayed its importance. Since then, they’ve done a couple of performances, and it’s blossomed into a real job –albeit a sporadic one — with the very real title of stage manager. He added it to the list.

Then he remembered something else. In high school, because he was part of the technical crew for the theater department, he was paid by the district $10 an hour to set up and “do the sound” for productions performed by other schools in the district. For example, he helped with elementary and middle school plays, evening concerts, high school graduation. This work gave him some solid experience. But again, because it was a job associated with school, he had downplayed that one, too. So he added “sound technician” to the list and thought some more.

Then I remembered something. Weren’t you on a leadership council for drama? I asked. He explained that yes, he had been, but all the seniors had been in leadership positions. That’s just the way it worked, he said, implying that it wasn’t important. But then he caught himself. He realized he had downplayed himself again and added another entry to the growing list.

He thought of one last experience when he recalled a mission trip he took a couple of years earlier. On the trip, the group stayed in a local church and provided soccer lessons to the neighborhood kids. Again, he didn’t think it was a worthwhile experience for his resumé; however, he had spent a lot of time preparing for the week-long camp, preparing lessons and playing soccer late into the night. It deserved to go on the resumé, for what it was worth.

When he was finished, he couldn’t believe it. With six different work positions, he had much more experience than he had realized. He proofed the resumé, read it through again, and uploaded it to the adventure zone’s website. The manager got back later that day to tell him that they were fully staffed at the time. Bummer.

Even though writing his resume didn’t result in a job, he learned something far more important: that he’s more accomplished than he had realized. There are no doubt other young men out there like my son who are seeking their place in the world and aren’t sure if they’re ready. If your son is one of those boys, encourage him to create a resumé. Listing his accomplishments will create an objective, tangible record of his past and current jobs, big and small. It will boost his confidence instantly.

Spare yourself the Hot Wheels Slimecano. Get a snake* instead.

*DISCLAIMER: Yes, I realize it’s a lizard in the photo and not a snake. Many people, including me, don’t like to look at snakes. Please keep reading.

You gotta love boys and all the stuff, including living creatures, that they decide to share a space with. Throughout my son’s growing up years, two Roborovski hamsters, a guinea pig, a turtle, two green anole lizards, and a small black snake called his monkey-themed bedroom home.

The best things about my son’s beloved creatures were that they did not require assembly and required minimal housekeeping. Plus, they provided hours of entertainment. The same cannot be said for the Hot Wheels Slimecano that my son received for his tenth birthday.

The Slimecano was a formidable volcano-like apparatus composed of several plastic pieces that snapped or otherwise fit together. The pieces were accompanied by directions that explained which parts attached to which other parts. All these combined to form race tracks, slime reservoirs, ramps, and other components that, when completely assembled, resulted in an ominous gray, brown, and orange tripod-like structure down which my son could send his cars. There was somehow a skull or dragon head involved in the design of the thing, although I don’t remember the significance of that, other than maybe it was there to warn parents in “Jolly Roger”-style of the gooey mess that was about to be made.

An unsettling slime concoction was key to the Slimecano.  I don’t remember if it was a slime we made at home at the kitchen sink, or if it was included in the package already prepared in packets, but it was there, a thick, gloppy translucent orange dotted with dark specks. The slime provided the magic of this toy.

For a fleeting five minutes, my son played with the Slimecano. He was mesmerized watching his car careen down the plastic track… until it hit the slime and needed to be pushed through an oozing river of the stuff and then guided around a puddle at the bottom of the track. This all happened to the same unfortunate car (or fortunate, I guess, depending on your age and outlook). After all, the wheels on a car can only move when they are not embedded with slime. My son soon figured out that this was a toy that required him to sacrifice his least favorite car. Send that car down the Slimecano once, clog up the wheels, tire treads, and undercarriage, and presto! game over.

Then came a very unmagical clean-up time. After snapping apart the Slimecano, my son discovered the entire apparatus was encrusted with the orange goo. So was the floor. And his mom’s patience. As he dismantled the game, washed off each piece, and packed the plastic collection back in the box, we knew that the Slimecano may have just had its one and only use. After all, cleaning the Slimecano was a messy chore, especially when compared to the directions for putting away a dead snake: Lift from stairs. Toss down hill behind house. Tell Mom to open her eyes.

 

Taking pictures on rooftops (and cliffs)

 

storm
This photo was taken from our roof by my son.

 

My son likes to climb up on rooftops and take pictures. Sometimes he just watches the sunset. Or just texts.

Occasionally, if we see a tall building with a ladder or fire escape, he’ll say something like, “I wanna climb up there.”

To which I say, “Don’t you dare!”

Just yesterday, he walked by me as I was folding laundry. His camera was hanging from his neck. He mentioned wanting to climb a rock cliff near the highway. (It’s near the highway because a rock mountain was dynamited to lay the highway.) Because I know he won’t do anything ridiculously daring —he’s never actually been the danger-seeking type— I told him, “Well, take someone with you. Or better yet, just don’t do it.”

When he comes home from working tonight, I should say that again.

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