Bill Linnane: 'Nothing rivals the joy of dropping your eldest to their first job - as an elf'
There are many joyous moments in the life of a parent - children's allowance day, the day they can mow a lawn unattended, or when literally anyone offers to take them off your hands for a few hours. But nothing really compares to the joy of dropping your eldest child to their first job.
We were as surprised as anyone that she even wanted to get a job, seeing as she is incapable of lifting a cup and bringing it down a flight of stairs. But desperation is great motivation, and her pocket money - ie, whatever she could steal from the footwell of my car - wasn't sufficient to fund her lifestyle.
So she went out and got herself a job. I was expecting her to get something fairly humdrum, but she aimed a little higher, or, to be more accurate, a little further north. My daughter, I am pleased to announce, is an elf. And not an elf in one of those grim winter wonderlands run out of a vacant lot in an industrial estate, where confused families pay €20 to meet trafficked reindeer and a Santa who vapes between kids. No, my beloved offspring is an elf in a classy operation, a five-star golf resort no less, which no doubt will do wonders for her elf esteem.
In fact, the Christmas wonderland she now works in is so upmarket that her own family can't afford to go there. I discovered this when I tried to book our family in to go jeer at her and discovered that it would cost us over €100. So we opted to save the money and just jeer at her at home, like we usually do.
All of my daughter's confidence and vision, I have been told, is not coming from me. Her mother got her first job around the same age, and has worked consistently since. My career has been slightly more staccato, leading to a Swiss cheese effect on the throne of lies that is my LinkedIn page.
My first job was shovelling seaweed off a beach. Even if you are from a landlocked midlands county, and you've never seen the coast, you will already know that there is a simple flaw in removing materials from a beach - mainly, that one tide later, they all come back. This is true for plastic, random bits of footwear, suicidal porpoises, sand and, obviously enough, seaweed. Many jobs bring Sisyphus to mind, but this one was like an actual curse from the gods. I would shovel the seaweed into a wheelbarrow, roll it down the strand, and dump it where it was deemed less unsightly. Guess what - the next day the beach was covered in seaweed again.
The job lasted three days before defeat was accepted and I was handed some soiled notes, which I then spent on fags and arcade games. Perhaps if I had taken a role where I got to wear big pointy shoes, hair glitter, and yellow tights as my first job I would have found greater rewards in work than just ciggie money, or at least learned the importance of leg day in the gym.
My daughter constantly surprises me - we never put pressure on her to get a job, but she went out and got one anyway. We try not to push her at school and she still does well, even when it isn't by design; she entered the Young Scientists competition because it got her out of a class, a plan that has backfired as their project was accepted. I'm almost scared to say it in case we break this magic spell, but it would appear that we might actually be doing something right. Of course, now that I have put this sentiment in writing, it's only a matter of time until the fates kick in and she is revealed to be some sort of festive Keyser Soze, running North Pole sweat shops, busting gnome unions with candy cane beatings and contract sleighings.
But until then, we can bask in the glow of having a child who seems to functioning at a higher level than us, and who is about to get a great lesson in the joys of employment when her dad makes her put her hard-earned wages towards a Christmas iPhone.