Sophie’s Junior Achievements


This morning, as with many mornings since we ushered in era of the Big Girl Bed, I had some time to lounge in bed and think. I had to stay perfectly still. Sophie comes to our room at dawn (literally) and while Ray can roll noisily out of bed and start his day, for some reason as soon as I move even slightly, she pops up like a jack in the box.

I wanted her to get some extra sleep this morning; night before last she barely slept a wink (I have a hunch she’s a very light sleeper in general, but that night she was out of bed several times) and had a couple of meltdowns and a nap at school yesterday.

So this morning, I watched her sleep for a while. Not a bad gig. Actually, it’s the best.

Finally, though, it was time to get up or risk a late slip, so I carefully tugged my arm from under her neck. She snapped to attention. “Wait for me, Mommy!” she squealed, trailing me to the bathroom.

We headed into the kitchen, where Ray was making lattes. (Yes, I’m that lucky. I don’t even know how to turn on the espresso machine.) Sophie got excited. She has several little tasks — I wouldn’t quite call them chores — she loves to perform, like waiting for me to finish a shower then racing to the bathroom to hand me my towel, or holding the porch door open for the rest of us as we trudge to the car to head for school.

And she always pats down the coffee in the little espresso holder (I don’t know the proper terminology) when Ray’s making lattes.

This morning I watched her from across the kitchen and thought, “Hmmm. Future barista?”

I do that from time to time, imagine professions for Sophie. It’s so unfair. I certainly aim higher than coffee shop girl when I conjure careers for Annabelle — fashion designer, artist, writer. With Sophie it’s so different. The world tells us the sky’s the limit for Annabelle; for Sophie, not so much.

Really, I try to aim high in my dreams for Sophie, too. You could also just say I’m a snob. I don’t want her bagging groceries, and I’m not down with anything involving widgets. I’m thinking she might want to work with kids.

In any case, that’s for her to decide and it’s way too early to think about. We’ve got to get through first grade. Just last night, in fact, Sophie told me she thinks first grade will be “tricky.”

I snapped a picture of Sophie the Barista and went on with the day, not even making the connection to what was coming next — my first Junior Achievement presentation in her classroom.

Junior Achievement is a non-profit program designed to teach kids the value of work, business and money. That’s fine, I suppose, although with pre-arranged programs like this I’m always looking for some offensive reference to the evils of socialism or a nudge toward religion, buried in the lesson plan. I can’t find fault with the kindergarten curriculum, at least not so far. (To be honest, I haven’t read ahead.)

Today’s lesson involved explaining what a volunteer is, reading a story about some kids who visit a family member’s farm and having the students draw pictures of their favorite animals.  

I guess we’ll get to the money part in a later lesson.

We went around the room at Ms. X’s behest, and each kid explained what their father and/or mother did for a living. That was pretty risky, I thought, given the current economic climate; but Ms. X knows these kids and their families well.

Given that we live in a pretty diverse neighborhood, there was quite a mix. My favorite juxtaposition came from the first three girls:

“My Dad works with dirt;” “My Dad works in a liquor store;” “My parents are architects.”

(Dirt Dad is actually a soil scientist.)

With a little prompting, Sophie told the group that her mom and dad work at the paper.

I’m not saying it’s right but it’s true: So much of our self-worth as people is rooted in our jobs — our titles, how much we make, how much respect we command, the work we produce. And so I do wonder what sort of job Sophie will have. Not some kind of smoke and mirrors faux job, I hope, not just busy work. I will aim high in my dreams, but I hope I’ll be okay — and more important, I hope Sophie will be okay — even if her achievements are just junior achievements. Something where she can have some small successes and make a difference in the world, even if it’s just by making someone a darn good coffee drink. 

Sophie’s smart enough to know if someone’s shining her on, so I hope that if Starbucks (or a groovy indie coffee house)  does give her a job as a barista, they really let her make the lattes herself. Even if she does get burned once in a while.



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4 responses to “Sophie’s Junior Achievements

  1. I get what your saying, but as a once (and potentially future) coffee barista (who hates coffee), I think there’s no “just” about it. I have a college degree (or two) and currently stay home with my kids. In all honesty, I haven’t worked in a coffee shop since college, however, I can see how it might be enjoyable. Granted, sometimes I think those thoughts and in them I am the owner (who also happens to sling lattes…or, in my case, tea), but still. I know there’s a difference between CHOOSING what you want to do and ENDING UP where you are, but in the end perhaps there is a little bit of choice and consequences in all our lives.

  2. Jen

    No grocery bags. No widgets. No way, no how.

    I envision Evan as an organic farmer. Although given his penchant for television-watching, perhaps a film critic is more in line with his way of thinking?

  3. gosh amy, i know i gush too much but you just have such a way with words. this was just smashingly written – perfect expression.

  4. I am still getting over your husband making lattes in the morning. Wait… no, still jealous.

    Okay, on to the rest of it. I loved this post.

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