Bring Back Work Week: The Pleasure of Accomplishment

A few weeks ago, our son Matt came in and said, “Mom, you know it makes a guy feel good to take responsibility – to meet a need, to do something that matters. I had no idea how much fun it could be to be the one to take care of something.” I think there are a lot of young men out there that haven’t discovered that pleasure yet, so I asked Matt to write about it for us…

The second week of June, one of my brothers was in a minor car accident. Everybody was okay, and for the most part, so were the cars. However, the impact cracked the radiator on the Jeep. The Jeep is shared by our family, but is officially the responsibility of the oldest son still at home – me. A thorough examination under the hood showed me that the radiator was beyond a simple patch; it would need to be completely replaced. My dad called our mechanic to get a quote on the repair, but it was going to cost more than we could afford that week – possibly that month.

 I wanted to be able to drive my Jeep. I knew we needed our second vehicle available.

As I knew I would already be staying home from the HEAV conference in Virginia to take a test, I began researching how hard it would be to replace the radiator. I’ve always been in charge of minor repairs and upkeep on our family’s vehicles – I change oil and air filters, replace brake pads, and rotate tires on a regular basis. It seemed simple enough, and I figured I could purchase the part for a fraction of what our mechanic (an honest man who does great work) would charge. It’s simple economics – He has to pay energy bills, hire employees, and keep a shop running. I can fix it with enough elbow grease and a part.

 I ordered the replacement radiator, and asked a young mechanic friend to come over Saturday and help me out with it. A couple of hours of hard work – and a few minutes of panic when the transmission coolant line fittings didn’t fit (Ironic, huh?), and I had a new radiator. I was filled with happiness, but not just because my car was fixed.

 I had accomplished something. I knew that something was my responsibility, but I took that beyond the scope of regular interpretation. My parents wouldn’t have asked that I fix it – after all, it was my brother who had the accident, and, as the 5th driver of the Jeep, only a fraction of the miles on the vehicle were mine. I felt an instant leap of maturity when I looked at my Jeep, and saw a repair, fully paid for and accomplished by my own hand. It felt like it was actually my Jeep, not just the car I drive. I didn’t start the job thinking about it that way – I just did it because I knew that my family couldn’t afford a costly repair, and I wanted to be able to drive the Jeep over the summer. I just wanted to contribute – to take dominion over my responsibilities. I spent a portion of the money I’d been saving for a new acoustic guitar, but the feeling of maturity I experienced was worth far more.

Matthew Henry Young

Please don’t be discouraged if you’re looking at your 11 year old, thinking, “No way!” We’ve often thought that, too! That’s why we do our webinar series, Boot Camp 9-12: Getting Geared Up for the Teen Years, to help parents of 9-12 year olds with all those things we wish someone had told us when our first was that age! Check it out!   ~Hal & Melanie Young