As I walked upstairs to my apartment just now, I overheard my downstairs neighbor having a conversation with his daughter, who’s probably seven or eight.
He was talking about how there’s always a trade-off between work and family, because as much as he wants to spend more time with her, he has to bring an income into the household.
It made my heart absolutely ache, because I remember having that same conversation with my father (and my mother) so many times.
I don’t think I quite understood, not as a kid anyway. My parents did a great job putting it into concrete terms, but actually grasping the way money and time and responsibility work didn’t start to sink in until I was probably eleven or twelve.
Right now I’m at an extraordinarily luxurious phase of life. I don’t work so much that I can’t have fun, and I’m responsible for exactly one person; me.
The only times I actually get worried about money is when I know I’ve been spending irresponsibly– alcohol is more expensive than I realized– but in reality, the levels of responsibility required of me are extraordinarily low.
Show up for work on time. Get enough sleep. Eat enough, and eat well. Drink water, and when drinking alcohol drink in moderation. Spend time with good friends, and don’t waste time on draining people. Do well in school.
Those are basically the only things I have to think about regularly.
Either I’m irresponsible or I’m lucky. Very, very lucky.
I suppose if I get into it, I could think of more things that I could be worried about on a daily basis, but if I do I usually end up curled in the fetal position cradling a book and my teddy bear to forget.
I’m not irresponsible. I just manage my low-spectrum levels of responsibility well, because responsibility is, like everything else, a spectrum.
My downstairs neighbor seems to be teaching this principal to his daughter in a sane and sensible fashion. Here’s hoping.