Another Day Another Dollar, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:37am

The boy child has a job.

Well, to be precise, my 21-year old son has accepted an offer. The job will begin a few weeks after he graduates in June of 2012. To be sentimental, nostalgic, and even surprised, my chubby toddler grew up and became someone who will show up every week in an office to do tasks and get paid.

I didn’t exactly see this coming.

He’s going to be editing financial, economic, and political news, for a startup. Lowish pay, so he’ll have to live in the time-honored way of all kinds of young people: carefully, with roommates, in Brooklyn or Brooklyn-equivalent. But it’s a Wall Street job. His sister helped him find the listing in the university’s Career Services bulletins. Go sister.

Why didn’t I see it coming? I mean, it’s not wildly improbable for someone to graduate from college and get a job. More difficult, in these days of our post-tragic economy, but it’s not as though he’s going to Kyrgyztan. On second thought, I might have been less surprised by Kyrgyztan.

I didn’t see a job coming because he was my last child.  His baby self never got displaced. A part of me so small as to disappear if I turn my head, still expects a little guy with pillowed feet to walk out of his room in the morning and climb onto the sofa. To sit quietly, staring out the window at the tree in our back yard. I didn’t see Wall Street coming because my son wants to be a writer. I’d become accustomed to the idea that his first years out of college might entail some sleeping on floors and waiting on tables.

Here’s what you wonder, when your youngest child takes an adult job. What will his office look like? You imagine his dark-haired head bent over a computer, in a cubicle he has decorated with his childhood super hero poster. Or ironic Pokemun characters. Or nothing.

You wonder, will he be lonely on Sunday afternoon? Will he throw away the plastic on drycleaner hangers or leave it hanging in his closet like filmy ghosts? Will he learn to cook anything with more than two ingredients? Will he sit, on a Friday night, with friends, drinking wine from juice glasses and catching the right person’s eye? You imagine him shaving, and vow to buy him the best electric shaver in the world.

I didn’t really think he’d come home to California, at least not right away. Maybe I hoped a little. I don’t know.

I have a sense that this change will wash over me gradually. Earning a living is a big deal and I didn’t do it as a young woman. The family fortune shone brightly, and I didn’t understand I’d eventually need to work. So I took internships in London, and Manhattan, then traveled through India. As you know.

I was lucky that I figured out how to make a living and have a career, just in time to counsel my kids in their efforts. I’d better get cracking on everything else. We always hope to stay one step ahead in order to understand what they’re going through. To have a hope of looking wise in their eyes.

I cannot end this without saying one more thing. Congratulations, Mr. P.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

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  • Congratulations Mr. P indeed. I would think being an editor would be great experience for those who want to be writers, too.

  • What an exciting time for him! Congratulations Mr. P!

  • I understand how you feel but good for Mr. P. – it’s not easy out there for young people these days. By the time my youngest graduates and gets a job, I’m sure I’ll have grandchildren to worry about!!

  • Congratulations and good luck to him. I hope he finds himself, what remains to be found of him (though perhaps, like yourself, he is hardly lost), never loses you, and eventually comes home to California.

  • Congratulations indeed!
    You could send him something for his cubicle/office…
    Wall Street editor does have a nice ring to it :)

    Enjoy your weekend,
    I don’t know about you but since I have a new job my weekends have become so very precious.

  • Lisa, it is a great accomplishment for your son and a testament to you as a Mother! California is such a draw and I am sure he will be there to see you whenever he can!


    Art by Karena

  • Congratulations to MOM AND MR. P!!!!!!!
    You’ve given him wings and he’s taking flight! What works for birds should work for us!!!!!!! HAHA

  • I hope for this, and yet, I think a lot about those pillowed feet bringing a boy to me who was content (for a while at least) to simply sit nestled beside me. Best to your young man!

  • Congratulations to Mr.P on his new, very exciting big boy adventure! A new season has begun for both of you, and I’m sure that with the guidance and inspiration you’ve given him over the years, knowing and unknowingly, he will succeed in every endeavor he dives into. He’s extremely fortunate to have such a loving role model as you for a mom!
    Loved the ‘pillow feet’…
    xo J~

  • I don’t have any sons but this is exactly how I feel about Manhattan Brother – and he’s in his forties! Congratulations to you & Mr P, sounds like a good start-up job.

  • Ah, good for him. Congratulations, Mr. P!

  • My mother and I were just at my fiance’s place of work, and she insisted on going in and “seeing his desk so that (she) could picture him there.” It’s been a long time since my mother’s children left her nest, but that instinct remained, even in her newest child, the one she did not raise.

  • That’s fantastic news. Combining his interest in writing with something “practical” like business and finance sounds like the perfect combination.

    So many liberal arts majors today are getting bashed in the press for choosing “silly” majors like English. (God forbid someone should actually graduate a skilled writer/communicator — not a whole lot of THAT coming from the college graduates I’ve screened in recent years.)

    Very inspiring story, Lisa. I hope you’ll share more of his experience with the new job in the months to come. My older son is a sophomore in high school and a gifted mathematician. Unfortunately he finds math (and science as well) incredibly dull. He’d much prefer the life of the stand-up comedian or stage actor. Maybe Mr. P. can suggest a way to combine those two disparate talents! :-)

  • Congratulations to both of you!

    Interesting, young people in the USA know which job they will have seven months in advance. In Austria it’s more like 4-6 weeks, if not just 2 weeks.
    Also that you son knows when he will graduate is interesting – we are never sure if we will pass all exams the first time.
    Everything seems to be right in track. 22 is young to start “a real life”. I was more like you, taking my time. But I hope – or am even sure – your son won’t depend on the money he is going to earn. There is nothing like parental support.

  • My daughter finishes graduate school in a few weeks, and begins a job in January. And, she’s getting married in September. Both things I’m happy about, but bringing up lots of other emotions too. Like you, I hope the changes will wash over me, gradually.
    Congratulations to your son – yes, the job market is tough these days.

  • That’s exciting!

    I hope you’re planning a trip to NYC to check everything out.

    I wouldn’t worry that he’s growing up and going away. They’re still children until they have their own health coverage and cell phone bills!

  • Hooray.

  • Congratulations to your son. Enjoy the excuse to visit NYC – something I failed to do when my nephew worked for an investment bank between college and grad school.

  • In answer to Lee Rosenthal’s query about combining mathematics and comedy: Tom Lehrer! (Some of his songs, like The Elements, and New Math, do so explicitly.)

    7:35 am
    Lee Rosenthall said...

    I forgot about Tom Lehrer. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Comgratulations to him. In this economy that is thrilling. I have a childhood friend at the WSJ and she has loved it!

  • Lisa, I like the way You write. Interesting and relaxing, yet something we all mother´s can relate to.
    Wishing your son and You my congratulations!
    Finding a job these days is not easy, so your son is a lucky guy.
    And lucky to have You as his mother : )

  • As cool as a cucumber your writing may be BUT I know you were doing a happy dance to Party Rock at this news.

    It’s fantastic and almost a miracle in these financial times.

    A big round of applause to you both.

    xo jane

  • Congrats and best wishes to your son! This is good, good news, but I’ll admit, it made me feel a little sad, too. Sunrise, sunset.

  • <3

  • Wow. “a little guy with pillowed feet” had me almost in tears, and for some reason the plastic on the hangers added to the weepiness, arrgghh! I guess because I feel as if I know how much you love him in a weird way, and I am so very happy for you both.

  • Congratulations to you and to Mr. P! Well done you, all of you.

  • He’s going to do just fine. There is a grand tradition in New York of creatives working on Wall Street. I did it. I actually did it and loved it (as much as I hated my Wall Street job on the west coast, I loved it back East… which is how I ended up in the one out here in the first place). Creatives are having a harder time getting those jobs, so God bless Princeton.

    But seriously. You have to eat while you’re figuring it out, and it’s very hard to write after waiting tables all day. I know a thing or two about.

    I’m only a little jealous of what he’s about to embark on, knowing it as well as I do.

  • WTG, Mr. P! Make us all proud. I’m sure your Mom couldn’t be any prouder.

    My stepson will be working in NYC in the summers (Palm Beach in the winters, the poor kid) – it just gives us another reason to visit.

  • Sounds like college and you, have done very well by him. Congratulations to all of you! Having both children set up shop professionally on the east coast would have me considering joining them. Not too close but close enough. I wonder where my two will ultimately land.

  • congrats to your little boy. I have a 14 month old an can’t even imagine here leaving for school let alone with a job *eek*

    I guess they grow up at some point….

  • My world (nearly a decade older than you) and yours were different from the situation now, with youth unemployment so high. So I am relieved and happy that he found a job that elicits his talents. Being able to make one’s way (whether you expect you will need to or not) is an asset. Congratulations to Ms L and Mr P.

  • Congratulations, how exciting for Mr. P! Now you’ll have an excuse to visit NYC (not that you needed one). I feel a little pang for you though, as my two are in San Francisco and I love having them near. It would be an adjustment if one of them moved far enough to require air travel for visits.

    I love the way you write about your children. You’re such a good Mom.

  • This entry really moved me with its tenderness. I have experienced many of the same emotions with my adult sons. Congratulations to your son for landing a job in his field. I’m trying to keep my worry under wraps about my English major daughter, my youngest, graduating this May… We have to believe in them and let them find their way.

  • CONGRATULATIONS are in order! How very exciting for him. Lisa, you did well! Happy day.

  • I’m the baby in my family and I boomeranged back home a few times trying to find the right adult job. I finally found it away from home, and now my mother asks when I’m moving back in with them. She teases that I’ll have to quit my job and take care of them in their dotage. I’ll be happy to do it.

    Congratulations to your son. I hope he decorates his office well and has many successes in work and in life.

  • Your writing in this post really moved me. And I enjoyed seeing your perspective on watching your son become an adult and the surprises that come with that…

  • I am in the early years of the pillowed-feet stage with my son and your words brought tears to my eyes. I cannot yet fathom looking back wistfully on my present; but I adore vicariously doing so through you. Thank you!

  • I couldn’t be happier for you and your son.

  • deja – I believe it will be really useful for him, if only for the discipline of tightening prose all the time.

    Miss M. – Thank you!

    quintessence – Well, worse things could happen:).

    Mise – Thank you. He’s got some of the Irish gift of gab like you:).

    Hostess – I hadn’t even thought of that! Wall Street editor! Wow. It was never my goal to have children with prestigious sounding careers but I suppose if it falls in my lap I will enjoy the sound of it:).

    Karena – Thank you. I am wholly aware that I’m lucky to live somewhere my kids like to visit:).

  • Jo-De – Well thank you ma’am!

    Town and Country – Thank you. Yes, we used to be their comfort and happiness. Now maybe they are ours. Or at least part of it.

    Jessica – Oh that’s so cute. A Big boy adventure:). Thank you.

    TNMA – Manhattan Brother is a lucky guy.

    Jan – Thank you!

    Fab – How very sweet. And how interesting to hear the impulse in someone else. I suppose we like to keep you in our minds’ eye.

  • Lee – Also, what about Steven Wright? Do you remember him? Very funny and intellectual? I wish your boy all good fortune. My son seemed on the path to science at one point, and then came home from a summer program saying he found the scientific method too boring (!). He was also involved in improv theater in high school – I think many kids who handle abstract thinking well also like comedy. Maybe it’s the quickness of thought and the break with logic.

    Paula – This is the case only because of Princeton’s campus recruiting program. It’s used primarily by Wall Street investment firms. A few companies also participate, and the schedule happened to benefit my fortunate son. And yes, he’s on his own. Although I reserve my right to send presents.

    Kathy – I feel very fortunate. And how wonderful to have a daughter getting married!

    RoseAG – You bet I am:). And, the job has health coverage…

    firstmilk – Now I can you all out to dinner in Koreatown:).

    DocP – Oh no! Maybe he’ll go back?

  • Parnassus – Yes.

    WorthyStyle – I went to business school with one of the WSJ editors. Exceptionally nice person. Good work on your friend’s part.

    Mette – Well, I thank you very much.

    Jane – Given the boy child’s musical taste, it’d have to be some hippo. And I thank you very much.

    Dawn – And we’ll hope for red skies at night, right?

    Agiril – ::)

  • TPP – It’s just so nice to have you out there.

    Mrs. Pretty – See! We both have Mr. Ps! I thought of you as I wrote that.

    Meg – Aaack! It has only just now hit me how similar your tracks are. I take that as a Very Good Sign.

    Patsy – Well what kind of sweet deal does your stepson have!!!

    Marilyn – I am just hoping he comes back to California. They both are well aware of my hopes:). Thank you.

    Javi – Oh, no, you’re still in the age of babyflesh. Too sweet and too exhausting to think of anything else.

  • Duchesse – I know. It’s so different now. And I do believe my kids are better off without the financial cushion I had, in many ways. Thank you very much.

    Susan – Oh thank you. I believe I will just have to visit him A LOT:).

    Kathleen – It was helpful to let go, early on, and then when this showed up it’s nothing but hooray. I wish your daughter all the best. I was a Comparative LIterature major myself:).

    Muffy – Thank you! I take a little credit, but not really all that much. You kind of get what you get and try not to wreck them:).

    Emmaleigh – Well thank you. How nice you’d be willing to care for your parents. How very nice you are.

    Adventures – Thank you very much.

    Amy S. – It’s the good part of getting older, sharing what you have experienced, and realizing that life continues and that you can pass on what you’ve learned. Thank you.

    Lynda – Thank you.