Being a parent is tiring sometimes

Last week Thursday my son called me at work to tell me about a grade 7 school project he has, for EMS (which Google informs me stands for Economic and Management Sciences). He had to prepare a survey, and speech, like a sales pitch, for a product or service, and include a poster with fake ads, comparison to a competing product/service, show his costs, and so on. He had no idea what to do but since we have no printer at home it would require me to download some pictures and info on his pretend product, at work…

So “we” decided on the phone that he would be selling a radio controlled toy car, with USB charger for greater convenience. And sure enough, such products actually exist. It’s amusing in a way… it’s only two or three years since he grew out of such toys, and USB charging cars were never a thing a few years ago. So toy technology has already moved on since he played with toys, and will likely do so again by the time he’s a parent.

I gave him what he’d need and assumed he’d get on with it, until yesterday when he told me he’d lied to the teacher, telling her his project was done but forgotten at home. Eventually he did it last night, but I had to spoon-feed him just about everything… the title being something like “Josh’s omnidirectional, all terrain, USM chargeable vehicle”, the selling points being something like…

  • Do your kid’s toy cars get stuck on the grass or carpets?
  • Do they need to be manually retrieved from under sofas and other obstacles because of the poor controls?
  • Did you get home only to find “batteries not included”?
  • Is it a major inconvenience to replace spent batteries?
  • Can they be damaged by water?

Well, fear no more because Josh’s omnidirectional yada yada yada can travel on all surfaces, the replaceable battery pack is USB chargeable, and the powerful motor allows control forward, backward, left, right, and can turn clockwise or anticlockwise… and so on. (Not exactly what he did – this is just more or less what I gave him off the top of my head.)

Kiddo eventually finished it in the dark (because we have rolling blackouts euphemised as “load shedding” here in South Africa) after midnight. His poster looks pretty cool actually. Good job, Josh. Eventually.

But here’s the weird thing… The little bugger is almost a clone of me, his problems getting started are so similar to my own that he is virtually identical to a younger me. His inability to take his friend’s example questions (her service was a bakery) and apply them to his product, his procrastination, his endless farting around doing everything except his project, his lack of ideas, even given he had such toys and knew exactly what could be improved compared to his own ones… It was like watching a little me with all the same problems I used to have.

The only difference is, I have had years of experience to get past those starting issues, years to learn these skills, which I call bullshitting skills but whatever… It’s fucking exhausting though. I’ve taken decades to overcome my limitations, taken so long to learn these skills, and for what? I can’t just pass them on to him. He has to go through the same trials and tribulations to learn the same lessons, and then we die. It would be so much better if we could somehow inherit these things, but no – we all spend years learning the same shit as our parents, repeating the same mistakes and struggling the same struggles. All for nothing. I wish I could make it easier for him, but there’s only so much I can do.

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