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.