No, no, not for me. I’m long past the stage where the words ‘totally’ and ‘unemployable’ were stamped on my personnel file. For one of my children. I seem to have become Tom’s agent. Ten per cent of all his future earnings? Dream on, mate. You clearly don’t have a teenage son.
As you may remember, young Master Nine-brains-but-can’t-tidy-his-bedroom is studying engineering. And the university have ordered him to gain some practical experience in the summer holidays. Which means applying now.
Sadly, the type of brain that gets excited by the stresses in a suspension bridge is not the type of brain that writes an engaging letter to an employer. “So you can do that, Dad.”
“Can I? Thanks.”
“I need three. Can you do them for tomorrow?”
Of course I can, son. Just give me five minutes to tell my clients to get lost and I’ll be right with you.
“Have you got a CV to go with your letter?” I ask, glumly expecting to have that added to my list.
“Yep. The engineering department made us do one.”
“Let’s have a look then.”
And sure enough it arrives. In Google docs. Tom tells me that’s what everyone uses. “Can’t I just have an attachment in Word?” I plead. I may as well have suggested a wax tablet.
I finally manage to open it. I see that it is indeed a CV. And I can even understand it. Well, parts of it…
Name – yes, that’s my boy. And there’s our address. Date of birth? I remember it well. And all those exams he passed.
But what’s this? All this stuff he’s doing at university? I mean, I recognise the words: but understand them? Thermodynamics and linear systems and vibrations. Something to do with heat? And er…vibrations?
Your child grows up. Suddenly he’s taller than you. He’s taking exams. Serious exams. You learn to live with the fact that he might be cleverer than you. There’s the rite of passage moment when you drop him off at university. You drive back home and look at his empty bedroom. But he’s still your boy. He’ll still come home.
But your child’s CV is a different matter.
People with CVs get jobs. The buy their own homes. Start families. Visit their parents only occasionally. Turn to their partner and say, ‘You want to go to Spain. I want to go to Spain. But we can’t because it’s time to do our duty and eat lumpy shepherd’s pie for three days.’
I settle down to apply for jobs that I don’t understand. Put together a persuasive letter in a foreign language. Tom leans over my shoulder and – frequently – corrects my technical mistakes. Half of me is proud of him, half of me is waving goodbye.
What’s this? One of the companies has asked him if he builds and mends electronic equipment. Oh yes. He may not be able to put a plate in the dishwasher, but he can fix Jessica’s laptop and save me a hundred quid. ‘Do you have soldering irons at home?’ they ask. ‘Can you weld?’
Well there’s a question that has a simple answer. ‘I would have done if it wasn’t for my mother.’
Yes, we selfishly stopped our son reaching his full potential. What sort of parents tell their son he can’t have oxy-acetylene welding equipment in his bedroom?
“That’ll do, Dad. I can correct the rest.”
“I’ll send them back to you as a Word attachment.”
“If you must,” he says, humouring the old person…