Monday, November 29, 2010

Collapse with Children

Our daughter, going on sixteen in March, joined the Fire Department last summer as a cadet. Sunday, she came with me to her very first actual car accident.

It was a slightly snowy day (oddly mild for November, actually). The car slipped on a patch of ice and hit an electrical pole. It was a major road and it had to be closed as we waited for the the electrical company to come and shut off the power and repair the downed line. We directed traffic for a little under two hours.
It was a minor accident, the driver and passengers declined transportation. That is to say, they decided that they didn't want to be checked out at the hospital for injuries.
It was surprisingly pleasant to stand out there with my daughter, training her to do a grown up job.

My mother, a child of WWII, used to claim that we were kept in school far too long, that many teenage episodes of rebellion and angst could be cured with a little real work.

I'm finding myself starting to agree, although perhaps not in the way my mother meant it. My daughter has a hunger to do something real. Not what she sees as useless make work some of her classes seem to joy in creating for her.

When she talks about her experiences as a fire cadet, she points out that all the "team building" exercises she's done in school fall far short. In fire camp she learned to trust her compatriots because they were men and women who might have to pull her ass out of a fire sometime. She depends on her fellow cadets (and the grown up firefighters on our squad) in a real-no-kidding-survival sort of way, rather than some fake social clique, cheer leading squad, school rivalry way.

Daughter is old enough to be considering career options after HS. She thinks she doesn't necessarily want to be a professional firefighter, but she sees the need for community involvement. She also is aware of the economic realities of our limping economy. We discuss how carpenter or electrician might be a good option, as well as artist and illustrator.

She complains that in her HS, during career aptitude tests, professions like law enforcement, firefighter and EMT are not even mentioned. Apparently too blue collar to be considered "real professions" and in our rural farm state, no one even whispers about their ambition to become a (cue shudder of contempt) farmer.

I think that four years on, when the class of '13 graduates, collapse will be more evident to my daughter's peers. Meanwhile, I'm trying to let my daughter know her options so she isn't caught unaware.

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