Not That Kind of Gross

This morning I was looking up the requirements/restrictions on claiming an elderly parent as your dependent.

Em peered over my shoulder, “Gross income? That’s silly.”

Homograph This

Homographs are words that are spelled the same and sound the same but have different meanings. Not to be confused with heteronyms – words that are spelled the same, have different meanings and sound different.

But as always, it was a teachable moment so I jumped up, grabbed a piece of chalk and explained the difference between gross and net income – something she will need in the future.

A tiny bit of math later and she understood the difference and why it makes sense to focus on net rather than gross income.


I’m waiting for this book to come in but I’ve already started the conversation. I would far prefer to see Em working for herself than for someone else.

We have been talking intermittently about this since a dinner table discussion about some billionaire who insisted his children all learn a trade. And not one you go to school for – but something like carpentry, housepainting, et cetera.

I remember pushing my eldest to learn how to type by touch and learn basic computer skills. I was able to make ends meet for nearly two decades by working in offices. And while it tended to be creativity-killing b.s. – it has always been a fallback.

I use so many of the skills I learned way back in the early days of working as a receptionist, office manager, and customer service rep. That experience provided me with a better understanding of business, customer service, and organization – and I use them to this day.

That said, I wanted to hear what Em would say to the question of learning a trade.

“I think I would want to learn how to paint houses,” she said, after a moment’s pause. She has already mentioned she wants to be an artist, but that was the first time I had heard of the idea of painting houses.

“Are you going to be okay on a ladder?” I asked, envisioning her high in the air on a 20-foot ladder propped against the side of a house.”

“Oh, well, maybe I’ll just do short houses.”

“Or you could just do interiors. That wouldn’t be so bad.”

“Yeah!” she looked excited at the thought.

At eleven, you might think she is rather young to be having these discussions. But looking back, I think I really should have had more of these discussions with my eldest earlier on than we did. I realize too that I was limited because I was still figuring out my own life, which has evolved drastically in the past twelve years.

In any case, I’ll be having more of these discussions as time goes on. Perhaps, as we ease back into homeschooling, we could make a study of careers and learn more about what other professions do. Perhaps I can even arrange interview time for her with different people on their work experience, the education needed, and the pros and cons of what they do. That could prove an interesting career path exploration class.

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