Parental Pride

Sign of my domestic times: Lewis the Lad is speaking longingly of home furnishings, hankering after comfy furniture and salivating over an armchair he can call his own. Ikea profits are about to rise in wake of his declaration that he ‘loves’ the Braehead store.

Lewis and Carrie – at T in the Park 2013

What has triggered this obvious very bad bout of nesting instinct?

The Lad has just landed himself a new job…

I really have tried to restrain myself. Honest. Because I really do know how tedious it can be, listening to other parents rave about their wains… But – unlucky for you – I have no self-control. I need to spill this parental pride before it kills me.

I was anxious about the Lad’s refusal to go study at Uni. With 9 Higher Grades he’d breezed into the course he’d originally applied for. Then his head was turned by what began as an 8 hr a week job with the big retailer Homebase. He loved the job. He began to thrive in the adult environment. He instinctively understood how to manage people and how to sell. He rejected the Uni offers and took up the Homebase offer of f/t training. Last year – at the age of 18 and within a year of starting – he was managing 15-20 people. This year he’s managing 46. His deft management skill – which comes from his belief in a respectful, largely democratic and listening workplace; the power of role-modelling ‘good behaviours’ and his commitment to ensuring that all that he does consistently demonstrates that he values others – have won him the respect of his staff and business success… His store consistently out-performs. He says this is because staff are valued and understand that their service is what drives profit and growth…

Ok ok the ‘business and profit and growth’ stuff – well, that’s strange medicine for this capitalist-suspicious household. But… parental pride has taken Robert and I on a bit of a journey…

His new job? After a 6-stage interview process he’s secured a management position with Waitrose. This – I now understand – is the Holy Grail, the Golden Fleece of the retail trade. The John Lewis Partnership test prospective employees vigorously and comprehensively – ensuring that the people they employ are a ‘good fit’ for their partnership structure; that their own personal values are congruent with the business model and its values. His position gives him significant staff benefits (including a non-contributory pension scheme – something he just doesn’t quite yet appreciate the rarity and value of) and a pay rise together with annual bonus (amounting to 20% of his already good salary).

His current employers have offered him another promotion, a store manager’s post within 24 months and a significant pay rise – taking him above the Waitrose offer and well above his current salary.

He has managed to turn this down with a grace that has allowed the Divisional and Regional Managers to state that any time he wants to come back he’s just to call them…

I am genuinely proud of him. Robert is genuinely proud of him. I know what that old expression means: our hearts have  swollen with pride.

He is stubborn and driven but such fun to be around. He’s a BIG party and clubbing animal (ironically someone I’d have steered clear off at school) and will be off to Ibiza for the last 2 weeks in September. He enjoys his booze. He likes a laugh and is a prankster. But he is caring; thoughtful; insightful; mindful.

Just one last anecdote about my Lad:

Lewis suffered a slight stammer (over ‘d’ and ‘s’ words) whilst a toddler which disappeared for a few years only to return when he was 12. I took him to our family doctor who referred him to the Speech Therapist. The Therapist took him on his own for a few sessions. At the end of his 5th session she called me in to speak to me. By way of background – I was very ill at this time and had been gravely ill on many occasions. The kids were traumatised by ambulances and morphine and me writhing in pain and in hospital. The Therapist wanted to discuss ‘nest steps’ with me. She explained that there was a question that she asked every child referred to her: If you had one wish, what would you wish for?
She had just asked Lewis that question. His response had brought tears to her eyes she explained. He had said after a short pause to gather his thoughts: I’d wish that my Mum would get better and never need to feel pain or need medicine again.

She didn’t think he needed any more sessions with her. And she wanted me to know that I had a precious boy.

I knew that then and I know it now.

This is a blog for Lewis. And now I’m off to shout at him for blowing his nose on my tea towel.

11 thoughts on “Parental Pride

  1. This is such a loving, heartfelt post that it brought a lump to my throat, Yvonne. No wonder you're proud of such a hardworking, talented and still very young man who is obviously destined to go far. Well done for not nagging him about uni, but allowing him to choose and follow his own very successful path. I wish more parents would do the same.

  2. That, my friend, was one of the most uplifting and (when I got to the last sentence) amusing posts of the year. I am so proud that you let Lewis go his own way. So many parents don't. Our first son went to Uni and when he died was doing his doctorate. Gaz, probably cleverer than his brother, eschewed staying on at school after 16 and now, in his 30s, earns more than I ever dreamed of earning in my life with his flat bought and paid for years ago and a house being built with no mortgage and …. I'll stop there. There is nothing wrong at all with being proud of one's wains. The trick is making them proud of their parents.

  3. He's clearly a great chap and you've every reason to be proud!

    My husband occasionally wonders how his life would have turned out if his father hadn't stopped him from taking an offer of management training from Joe Lyons where he had had a Saturday job…

    University isn't the only option for a satisfying job.

  4. Thank you Perpetua. Lewis (we call him Louis – but spell it Lewis) has helped us become better parents I think. 😀 He's been an invigorating challenge – opening our eyes and forcing us to recognise that our own 'expectations' can have the effect of prejudices and be every bit as limiting. He's helped free us – equally aided and abetted by his beautiful siblings.

  5. Oh Graham – how profoundly true that is! 'the trick is making them proud of their parents'… That is one of the few goals worth pursuing.

    Your boys sound almost as great as my lad 😉 I think Gaz and Lewis sound remarkably similar – talented and (from what I've seen of Gaz's photography alone) sensitive.


  6. Lyons? Is that the cake/biscuit/tearoom/hotel etc massive company? Leo's opportunity sounds remarkably like the one Lewis has just been given.
    My expectation (and I say 'my' because despite being a Headteacher R was much more relaxed about Lewis' decision than I was) that Lewis went to Uni was so deeply ingrained that I hadn't even realised it WAS my expectation, until Lew decided he wasn't going to go…
    The truth is – his decision to go in this direction was the best one he could have made. He's happy in a way he'd never have been if he'd been forced to go to Uni – though I think that such energetic and enthusiastic people like Lew achieve regardless.
    He's talking about studying via the OU now – he reads 'management theory' books and is interested in 'international relations'…
    My Mum often says 'whits fur ye will no go by ye'…

  7. Yvonne, you've brought a tear to my eye. Beautiful post. Beautiful young man. Beautiful parents. You've really helped him blossom! Mine I'm afraid are in uni – the eldest two boys – and it's a constant tussle because they are largely uninspired and clueless about what comes next. Plus the Italian system is slow – they really deferring their entry into adulthood in a way I think is probably unwise, given job possibilities. And they are history and music freaks! I've no idea how it will pan out. And my daughter is studying to be an opera singer! Hopefully my last will be more like Lewis – in tune with the world, big-hearted, employable xxcat

  8. They obviously share the talents, too, of getting on with people and, in Kipling's words, walking with kings nor losing the common touch.

  9. Hey Cat, thanks.

    I hid myself in academia for so many years – 'in out of the road of the buses' said my Ma – that I can't talk about anyone going to Uni! And I enjoyed it – so I envy your lot (though I especially envy your talented daughter – I was offered a place at the RSAMD – Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama – but I knew I just wasn't talented enough to eb anything more than a jobbing flautist)

    Meg starts Uni again on the 20th Sept. This time English and languages. Evan is considering applying to the Glasgow School of Art. Ana 'wants to be a chef' and Jamie is practising now for a career in sports journalism.

    They all get there in the end. I often reflect that my lot 'get there' despite the things their Mum and Dad do and say… 😀

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