As I write this, there is a girl – a young woman – resting her head on my knees, watching her favorite TV show,Criminal Minds. The fact that Criminal Minds is her favorite show is a bit of a joke, because she is easily scared. She can only watch it when the rest of the family is watching with her and most of the lights in the house are turned on.
She is a little smelly, after a long shift at McDonald’s, where she has worked since she turned 15 and could get a job. She works at least 20 hours a week, and pays her own phone bill every month, her car insurance, buys most of her own clothes and still manages to maintain good grades – good enough that she will likely get scholarships and grants to help pay for college.
On days I don’t feel like writing or doing the many administrative tasks related to freelancing, this daughter provides inspiration for me. She is motivated and has the best attitude about work I’ve ever encountered. Of course, she is also a normal teenager who pushes the limits and talks back and gets overly emotional now and then.
When my kids were small, I sometimes worried about what they would be like when they grew up. Would they be people whose company I’d enjoy? Or who would enjoy my company? Would they have a sense of humor? Those kinds of questions occured in between diaper changes and scuffed knees and parent-teacher conferences.
They aren’t quite grown up yet, but I’m happy to say I know the answers to those questions. They have turned into people that I not only enjoy being around but that I admire. They are funny too.
I’ve known people who were motivated to work because they want to be able to provide amply for their children, and that is a worthy goal. I want to provide for my children, of course, but feel much more inspired by their solid work ethics and willingness to go over and above what is expected.