Sunday, May 16, 2010

Parenting Is Easy! Rating of Jobs Held on a Scale of Crap to Cake

If something seems familiar to you about this post, you probably read the first thing I ever wrote on this here blog lo those many months ago.  This is a variation on it that I'm re-posting for a little thing hosted by a super cool blog called ABDPBT.


The parenting-industrial complex and its minions in the mainstream blogosphere would have us believe that parenting is a thankless and grueling enterprise, fraught with danger and self-sacrifice, offering only fleeting but intensely gratifying payoffs.  However, a longitudinal study of the work life of one parent (me) complicates the notion that parenting is "hard."

The following is an evaluation of  jobs I have held in the past as well as my current position as a stay-at-home dad (and auto-ethnographer):

Job 1) Lifeguard (3 summers during high school)
Pros: easy as long as no rescues necessary, tanning opportunities, twirling whistle on lanyard, girls in bikinis
Cons: tedium, babysitting of ungrateful brats and antique pool filter systems, ignored by girls in bikinis, skin cancer later in life
Score: 7—angel food cake, no frosting

Job 2) Driveway Resurfacing (1st job after high school)
Pros: N/A (one of my colleagues told me that we would see many fine ladies in our travels, but this claim was vastly overstated)
Cons: many hours in Econoline van full of grumpy rednecks who smelled like asphalt, working on blacktop during summertime in D.C., smelling like asphalt
Score: 3—crap cake

Job 3) Carpenter (about 75% of the last 25 years)
Pros: sense of accomplishment, decent pay, a certain romantic cachet perceived by people outside of the trades, manliness cred, useful skills, bawdy humor encouraged, tanning opportunities
Cons: injuries, grumpy rednecks, non-tradespeople saying they “have always admired people who can work with their hands,” being called “handyman,” skin cancer
Score: 7—German chocolate cake with a dusting of poop flakes

Job 4) Ski Instructor (2 seasons)
Pros: free skiing, pro deals on equipment, wielding godlike (but benevolent) power over trembling college coeds taking skiing for P.E. credit
Cons: babysitting ungrateful brats, lining up in the cold with the rest of the instructors trying to solicit customers and hoping the manager would pimp me out to a wealthy tourist for a “private,” kicking myself for not thinking of getting this job while still single
Score: 8—Ice cream cake 

Job 5) High School English Teacher (3 years)
Pros: those 4 students who I really “reached,” that time the previous night’s Ambien had not yet worn off and I had the class recite The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in rounds with a couple kids beatboxing and me reading some of the lines as Brando in Apocalypse Now, working with smart teachers
Cons: babysitting ungrateful brats, broken school system, loss of cognitive capacity from reading student essays, loss of self-esteem, loss of faith in humanity, loss of muscle tone, loss of weekends, threat to marriage, grumpy teachers
Score: 2-crap cake with turd filling and ¼ teaspoon of chocolate sprinkles

Job 6) Adjunct Professor (3 years)
Pros: students not hell-bent on keeping each other from learning anything, good conversations in the copy room
Cons: academic status and job security equivalent to day laborer in Home Depot parking lot, student essays almost as bad as high school
Score: 6—strawberry shortcake with fart glaze  

Job 7) Stay-at-home Dad of Twins (7 months)
Pros: new Cutest Thing Ever every day, baby laughter, license to act like a complete idiot, people thinking my job is really hard, decline in existential angst, babies’ 16 hr/day sleeping schedule allows time to get things done around the house (finishing 2-story addition, hanging siding, shingling roof, refenestrating old part of house, teaching online, etc.), excuse to never leave house
Cons: some gross fluids/solids, some crying/screaming, soundtrack from Fisher-Price toys permanently looping in brain, emasculation.
Score: 9—cakey cake

I don’t deny the possibility that other parents may have different experiences than I have had.  Many factors could contribute to less positive outcomes; for example, financial instability, lack of support from co-parent, or inherently fussy children.  But these problems can be attributed to poor spousal selection on the part of the parent or grandparents, and are beyond the scope of this study.



  1. I imagine you were a very cool English teacher.

  2. I had the same thought as Nubian. Beatboxing! Sweet. :)

    I could never be a stay at home parent. More power to you, dude.

  3. Hm, I see a common thread of "babysitting ungrateful brats" in your vocational past. I imagine this *may* have given you a slight advantage in the present occupation.

    You're lucky to be able to spend so much time with your girls. I'm sure it's a good life.

  4. This was my favorite: "strawberry shortcake with fart glaze."

    Sounds delicious!

  5. Nubian,
    Thanks! Unfortunately, not all of my students realized how cool I was.

    I'm telling you, staying at home is the cushiest job ever.

    I agree. I have seen what it's like to deal with real problem children, and it makes mine seem that much more delightful.

    Dr. Heckle,
    It *was* delicious!

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