Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mara and Toni Observe Parents and Their Kids at Work Together

From Mara:

We’re having an EV charger installed at our house. My daughter has a Volt and we are having a special charger installed that allows her car to charge quickly.

As usual when I need to have something installed at our house, I go onto the web and find places to call for estimates. I found a place where the installation price seemed reasonable and they seemed knowledgeable, so they’re now installing the unit. It requires some piping to extend the electrical connection from our electrical box that is located on the side of our house to where the charging unit will be located near or driveway.

The electricians are a father and son. And if you look at them, they look like father and son—the son a younger version of the father. They're both very friendly. The father is clearly the owner of the business, but the son has been working with him a long time and probably will take over ownership when the father no longer wants to work. 

And as I sit here and listen to the pounding and noises of pipes being attached to the side of our house, I can hear them talking back and forth to each other. They’re not speaking English (maybe Russian?) but the tone struck me as familiar. They sound exactly like my daughter and I when we are trying to get stuff done—when there’s a problem to be solved and we both have input to give about how to solve it. They're not talking in a relaxed tone. There are sharp quips and static responses, but it’s not aggressive. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. It’s the conversation of two people who know each other so well they don’t have to be polite and they don’t have to use complete sentences.

And although I have no idea what they’re saying, I can imagine it in my head, “Hand me that thing. Don’t do it that way. Stop pulling. Can you hold this?” And it makes me smile. I like the idea of kids working with their parents. I don’t know that my daughter and I could ever do it, but I love that there are people out there who can. I love that this father worked hard to create a business where he can work with his son. I love that the son appears to enjoy working with his father. It makes me happy that I found them.

From Toni:

I love Mara’s piece because I’ve had the same experience with a man who does work for us when we need it. His name is José. He’s a U.S. citizen, originally from Mexico. His English is pretty good although there are a lot of idioms he doesn’t understand (I always ask if he knows what I mean when I use one).

Whenever I hire him to do something (build a hand rail for our steps, rebuild a gate on the side of the house), he brings his sons with him—one is a pre-teen, two are teenagers. As they work together under José's guidance, they speak to each other in Spanish (even though his sons’ English is flawless). I’ve never seen José speak sharply to his sons. His tone is always kind and loving. 

What I love about these interactions is the same thing that Mara wrote about. But there’s something else I appreciate. Here is a family who came to this country to fulfill the American dream, and they’re working so hard. José has a full-time job during the week for a cement company, but he works these additional jobs on the weekends because the family needs the extra income. I don’t know when he takes time off. 

I also think about his sons. While most kids I know are hanging out with friends on the weekends or practicing sports or doing other fun things, José's kids are working. They’re handing him tools. They’re sawing wood as he carefully shows them how to do it correctly. And they never complain. Seeing the family working hard together to fulfill the American dream moves me deeply.


  1. Thank you for this piece. The images you describe are both timeless and timely.

    1. Thanks so much, Susan. I'm so glad you liked it. All my best, Toni