Child labor

12 Jan

Matthew has had quite a few orders for his silver ring.  In fact, until two days ago, he had more orders in January than I did, and I’m beginning to wonder at what point encouraging your child’s hobby becomes child labor.

Would he just stand still and smile? No, he would not.

Matt is proud that he’s made something others find valuable, and he surprised me by asking if I thought people were  buying his ring because he’s ten.  He didn’t want that, he said, and he worried that they were. I’ve assured him that, no, people don’t buy thirty dollar rings because you’re cute.  A twenty-five cent cup of lemonade?  Sure, cute will sell that, but not thirty dollars worth of it.

He’s morphed into a no-nonsense professional metalsmith, casually tossing out the lingo.  “When do I need to have that size 7 out?  Where’s the new flux? Is this the medium solder?”

I love it; I love  his new sense of accomplishment, the validation of skills these sales denote, the dignity he obviously feels.  Being the youngest of three boys has not always been easy.  There are always two older, more experienced brothers ready to correct him, ready to help even when he was not asking for help.  But now he’s top dog.  Now he, at ten, is more accomplished in this one area than both brothers combined, and it’s an important area: it’s Mom’s business.  

With the success of his sales has come worry, too.  He’s worried about getting his orders out in time, he’s worried when he makes mistakes.  I’ve assured him that I’ll be there with him, I’ll walk through this beside him, picking up anything too heavy for him to shoulder, lending a hand if things overwhelm.

“Does that mean I have to give you part of my money?”  He’s asked.  Ah, the money.  Out of every sale, five dollars goes to materials, and Matt keeps twenty-five dollars as profit.  He’s a bit overwhelmed by his sudden wealth.  That’s a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh cards.   That’s a lot of electronics he doesn’t need but wants to buy because he can

I’ve been asked many times if we can go to Target. 

“Why?” I ask.

“I want to buy something.”

“What were you thinking you wanted to buy?”

“I don’t know.  Just… something.”

When I told him I wanted him to wait a week before purchasing anything, and I only wanted him to spend a quarter of his earnings, he seemed relieved.  Whew.  It is not easy being rich.

Matt seems to have gone through my catalogue of Everything Which Has Gone Wrong In the Studio In The History Of Ever, and is considering how he’d feel about these things happening to him.  He hopes he doesn’t poison himself.  He hopes his hair doesn’t get burned off.  He really doesn’t want to get rouge in his eye.  

And the clients, he’s worried about the clients.  I’ve only had one really difficult custom order, but my upset over it must have made an impression.

When his second order came in, Matt lamented, “Oh, I hope I don’t get any crazy clients!  If I do, I’m just telling them, No!  I will not make a ring for you!”  So basically, he’s a lot like the Soup Nazi, but with rings.  The Ring Nazi.

I’m not sure how real these worries are, or if they are just a way of verbalizing the new grown-up dignity he feels, his new badassery.  It’s the parfait-layering of his little boyness with this silversmithing gravitas which makes me smile.

“Mom, can I finish this ring later?  I wanna go outside and play. ”

I look out the window a few moments later to see him rocket his soccer ball into the goal he was so excited to get for Christmas.  He runs a circle around the yard, arms raised for his victory lap.

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3 Responses to “Child labor”

  1. andrea January 13, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    Matt you rock! Well done, lad. Mom, well done too, you both have made a goal. Now you should both take a victory lap, arms raised with the sun in your face. I am giving you both a standing ovation from Montana.

  2. Loll January 12, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    This was worth getting up out of bed to read! Not the post I was expecting today, but one that made me smile. Good job, Matt.

  3. Lori January 12, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

    I really enjoyed this – your story reminded me of growing up on our farm where my dad paid me hourly to weed the fields (well, like $2 an hour – weeding was a chore, but an awful enough chore he felt we should get *something* for it!).

    I’d start adding up my time by the 15-minute block. If I work five more minutes, that’ll put me at the next 15-min break and I can stop for awhile! Whew!

    ha ha

    It sounds like Matt has a great head on his shoulder (Bravo, Matt!) – if only all kids could feel this sense of accomplishment, I think our world would be a different place. I’m glad he’s also out kicking soccer balls. Awesome! Good for him!

    Bravo to you, too, for showing your son the value and feeling of accomplishment. Now, I have to go check out that ring! Be on the look out for an order from California!!!
    ~xo

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