Teaching by Doing

By Regina Abuyuan

My friend R, who partnered with D and me on this new venture of ours, a pub in Cubao X, has an ingenious solution to the never-ending quest for work-life balance and spending time with his kids even when he’s at work: letting his kid work alongside him.

For two weeks now, his son R2 has worked Fridays and a couple of Sundays waiting and clearing tables at the pub. Unlike most teens, he’s not into video games and girls (thanks to his ultra-sensible, well-grounded parents). However, R thought he could use some boosting in the get-your-nose-out-of-your-book-and-relate-to-the-world department. Don’t get me wrong—R2 is no sullen, emo-type nerd. He’s always smiling; chatty when he wants to be. But parents like to push their children’s potential, so here we are.

The first night, R2 was learning the ropes, trying to gain his footing. And he did—fast! Now he automatically hands guests their menus, knows how to serve beer, and wipes down tables after.

“It’s about building confidence,” his father likes to explain to people, after joking about child labor, when they inquire about the bespectacled lad handing them their drinks. “How to relate to different kinds of people—people skills.”

The best feedback I’ve gotten from R about his boy waiting tables, though, is this: “Papa,” R2 told his father after one (his first!) particularly busy Sunday. “I will never get irritated at waiters again.”

And what about my kids, you may ask? Why haven’t I asked S to join in? I don’t think it’s for her. I’ve asked her to serve customers a few times, but I know she wouldn’t be the eager learner like R2 is. Instead, I let her watch and witness how hard D and I work at the kitchen and bar—and her reaction has been just as rewarding.

“Are you sure you’re OK?” She texted last pay day, a Friday, when she learned D was going to be late for service and R wasn’t around. I was basically running the whole show, with the crowd growing bigger by the minute. “Yes, I’ll be OK,” I answered.

“Uhm, well, at least you’re earning…and you like it…I hope Tito D comes soon so he can help you.”

I rediscovered what I taught myself and S when she was little and would sit beside me while I wrote: If you can’t bring your kids to work, or have them experience what you do, at least make them understand what you do, how much you enjoy it, and how much it means to you. That way (hopefully!) they won’t resent your work—or at least resent it less.