In the commercial fishing world nothing is more important than your work ethic. It doesn’t matter how strong you are- if you aren’t willing to work as hard as you can, you aren’t worth much. In an industry where your reputation is your resume, a good work ethic is a necessary qualification and those who try to do just the bare minimum don’t get far. This is a lesson my husband, Zed, had to learn at the age of 14, when he first started commercial fishing. A lifetime of working on boats (and an ex-green beret grandfather) has shaped him into the hardest working person I know.
My childhood was mild in comparison, but my parents did stress the importance of hard work and self-reliance. Starting from a young age, my sister and I had many chores around the house and yard.
And as soon as I could, I was finding ways to earn money- babysitting mostly, and odd-jobs like pet-sitting and doing the neighbor’s laundry. In high school, I wanted to go to an alternative school, so I cleaned the school on weekends to help pay for tuition. Even as a child I knew that if I wanted something, I would have to work for it.
I cannot stress the importance of this lesson I learned early in life. And now, as parents of two little boys, Zed and I have made it a top priority to teach this lesson to our kids. Even at the ages of 2 and 4, we find jobs for them to do. They are responsible for feeding our dogs in the morning (a job that Atticus takes very seriously). They sweep the floors and rake the yard, and I try to find ways for them to help me in the kitchen, like measuring and mixing ingredients.
Whenever possible, Zed takes the boys down to the harbor with him to help with gear work.
The kids LOVE helping out and feeling useful, and I love seeing how proud they get when they complete a task we have given them. It gives them a sense of importance and confidence that can only come from being a productive member of society.
As they grow, I hope to teach them the value of money and the importance of saving, but for now I just hope they will continue to enjoy working and being helpful. Who knows, maybe someday these little guys will be Zed’s deckhands.