Memo To Self: Must write to the International Olympic Committee to introduce a “rolling eye” competition, so my kids can win gold, silver and bronze.
They have to do something worthwhile with their lives, since none of them want to be writers like their dad.
“We want proper job,” said one.
“With money,” said another.
One of them fancied being a rich businessperson like Rupert Murdoch or Donald Trump until I told him that you had to have your heart removed and learn to drink blood.
My mind was on the topic of job inheritance after I received a letter from a reader about a real-life saga in India.
In 1925, a man named Chaturvedi became an accountant. Today, five generations of Chaturvedi family members are accountants, and there are about 500 accountants in their caste where they live, Mathura in north India. Imagine a whole region of people in dark suits holding calculators and auditing each other.
The reader did not want her name printed in case her children think she is pushing them to follow her footsteps (she is an accountant), but asked: “Do children usually do what their parents did?”
A colleague and I embarked on a comprehensive research project (typed the question into Google). Up popped studies which said three factors determine whether your kids follow your profession or not.
* The Dining Table Chatter Effect. As parents chat to each other about their working lives, children become intrigued and inspired by the phrases they overhear. (“I hate my life”; “Kill me now”, etc.)
* The Arcane Skills Effect. The higher the number of mysterious specialist skills a profession has, the more likely it is that children will do the same job. (“Big day at the office tomorrow, remind me to take my Ancient Book of Spells”.)
* The Infectious Jobs Effect. Boys with soldier dads very often become soldiers and girls with teacher mums very often become teachers. Three other inter-generational jobs are business management, construction and entertainment.
“One of the strange things is that the job of ‘king’ is inherited in many societies, including ones with no monarch,” my colleague said. “The president’s family members become the next leader.”
And if you really want your children to follow your footsteps?
Make your title sound grander. If you are a Road Sweeper, call yourself a Highway Environmental Hygienist.
The hot trend is to add the word “architect” to any activity. So a baker becomes a Cake Architect, a barber is a Hair Architect, a bank robber is a Financial Extraction Architect, a person who trains architects is an Architect Architect, etc.
Most importantly, experts say you should be sure to talk about your profession over the dinner table in ways that sound enigmatic, esoteric and intriguing. “I’m seeing a new client tomorrow: Remind me to bring my amulet, pentagram and magical Lamp of Thoth.”
But here’s a warning. Kids these days are pretty smart, and some won’t be fooled. They will just sneer and roll their eyes.
If they want lessons, my children can supply them at attractive prices.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)