“Good luck,” I say, flashing Sophie a thumbs up.
As a parent, there are milestones you prepare for — the first day of pre-school or teaching your kiddo how to ride a bike without training wheels. And then you have to just let go (gulp) and hope for the best.
But her first job interview . . . at 11?
It wasn’t exactly a job interview. She was going into POP! for a continuation of a “real world” learning lesson — one begun at the Springbrook Trout Farm.
Maybe you remember the article I wrote at the beginning of summer about fun things to do with your kids in Renton?
After meeting Bill Briere, the owner of the Springbrook Trout Farm, my mom got a part-time summer job. A fringe benefit of working there was the kids got to hang out and visit grandma, learn how to catch and gut fish like aficionados.
“We got tipped!” Sophie and Amelia galloped into the car, jubilantly waving two crumpled dollar bills.
Their excitement was euphoric, it was more than just two dollars. They were making the connection between mastering a skill and the value it represented to a customer.
“I wish the trout farm was open all year round,” Sophie said.
I didn’t want her enthusiasm to end. These were the kind of practical real-world experiences you couldn’t learn in school from a book.
“Well, what about looking for another job?” I encouraged.
“I want to work at POP!” she said, wearing the world-is-my-oyster expression.
Sophie loves to cook and bake, so I wasn’t surprised that she would select an exciting new business in downtown Renton that makes delicious savory and sweet popcorn.
Would she need a food handler’s permit? I thought she was too young to get one.
“When I was at Microsociety, other kids had to get their food handlers permit. You can be any age.”
Sophie was referring to Talbot Hill Elementary School in Renton where she participated in the Microsociety program.
Microsociety’s motto is “Teaching Kids About the Real World.” Every kid at Talbot Hill has a job, or a business and takes a field trip to learn about their job.
We went home that day and Sophie researched POP!
Using Word to write her resume, she stared at the screen. I could see self doubt threaten to derail her progress.
“Mom? What are my job skills?”
“Well, you’re the eldest of four kids . . . you’re a pro at conflict resolution.”
She nodded and the pilot light of confidence flickered to life again.
“And you take care of your chickens, guinea pig, rabbits, dog, and a super annoying cat. That’s project management.”
“But the rabbits escaped.”
“But you tried tirelessly to catch them and designed ingenious strategies that required team work with Amelia and Patrick. That’s team building.”
Sophie sent her email to the “contact us” void on the POP! website.
I was excited for Sophie to experience the “real world.” But at the same time my heart fluttered a little. It was one thing for me to say “try your best” but quite another to have my daughter’s dreams dashed. But wasn’t that part of life too? Taking a chance and knowing you could get rejected?
A few days later a reply landed in my inbox.
What a wonderful email you sent. We have three great employees right now, but would very much like to meet you and see if there is anything you could help with now and then.
Why don’t you give us a call at the store and we’ll set up a time to meet.
POP! Gourmet Popcorn Company LLC
Sophie walked out of POP! with a thumbs up and a priceless sense of accomplishment.
“Mommy, can I get a job at happy delusions?” Amelia asked from the backseat where she had been quietly listening to Sophie detail her interview.
Amelia adores happy delusions. It’s a special place she and I go together. Amelia loves the crochet stuffed animals, the one-of-a-kind Kokoleo bunnies, hand-blown glass animal pets, owl-shaped earrings. Amelia is an artist and she likes being around Mary Clymer, the owner, and her eclectic artistic boutique.
“Are you willing to go in and ask Mary?” Amelia looked unsure. But I could see a determined 7-year-old.
“I love the smell of happy delusions. It smells like washed shirts out of the dryer,” Amelia whispered as we walked through the vintage door. She carried a letter of her qualifications decorated with unicorns and stars.
“How about you can hang out with me on the day of the Art Walk?” Mary Clymer asked, looking at Amelia.
“Sure,” Amelia said her face starry-eyed.
I’ve since met David Israel and taken a tour of his new popcorn-making mecca. He showed Sophie how they make their popcorn. And listened to her flavor suggestion of Hot Cocoa.
Of course, I was proud of both my girls. But I was also touched by the support of these local business owners.
You never know if people are going to support what you’re trying to accomplish. But you’ll never know if you don’t go for it. And if you want some delectable popcorn or unique art, visit POP! and happy delusions!