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My parents love me, but I suspect I am something of a disappointment.

In the 1960s, my father completed a bachelor's degree in philosophy and dropped out of law school because of his working-class principles. A lifelong carpenter, he has dedicated his days to working with his hands and his evenings to studying history and leftist politics.

In the 1970s, my mother, a student of English literature, abandoned her nearly finished master's degree to raise her newborn daughter. My older sister was home-schooled until she was 12. I entered kindergarten at this time, and my mother became a primary-school teacher.

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My sister has a degree in art history and works in a university library. Like our mother, she is a shop steward in her union and, like our father, she is an organic gardener and occasional political protester.

I am an accountant.

To find common ground, I speak to my father about the historical and somewhat philosophical roots of economic theories. He speaks to me about language and politics.

I tell my mother that although I believe unions are essential, historically and currently, there is more opportunity for me to build my career in industry. She asks why I do not work for the university.

Each year, I do my sister's taxes and help her with her RRSP. She does not understand what I teach her or why it is important.

My family appreciates that I always choose to work for companies that contribute positively to our society. I have turned down opportunities because I prefer not to work with military partners or in the mining industry.

"You're not a typical accountant." I suppose people say this because I am bright-eyed, have a cheeky sense of humour and, perhaps most significantly, I have a nose ring.

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This is why I am a typical accountant: I am my own person.

People, my parents included, have trouble understanding accountants. Actually, we are like anyone else. We eat breakfast in the morning, we do our jobs with passion and we have

hobbies like stamp collecting or skydiving. We are

individuals.

My high ethical standards make me good at what I do. I believe in responsibility for one's own finances.

I have taken my parents and sister to task when they express distaste at paying taxes. We live in a society, a society that provides the services, aid and infrastructure we need.

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For this reason, I could never be a tax accountant. I see no glory in the pursuit of

loopholes.

Leftists should be for taxes as they are for the social programs that are subsidized. People on the right side of the political spectrum should also be for taxes, for they enjoy the highways and corporate bailouts that are financed. And tax law can be used to bend and shape societal behaviour. The sin tax placed on alcohol and tobacco is one example, tax credits for charitable contributions another.

I tell my parents to pay their taxes with pleasure and then lobby for positive social programs and tax credits for purchases of hybrid cars. I am not, I suppose, so unlike them.

My mother tells me stories about what I was like when I was little. She says I had an old-fashioned cash register and in it I kept all my birthday and Christmas money. I always saved it, never spent it.

I liked to count my money, play store and pretend to make change with it. I lent it to my sister when she had spent all of hers. My dad bought me math books and I taught myself long division and algebra.

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In my teenage years, I rebelled: After high school, I refused to go to university. My parents were distraught. Turning my back on academia was the ultimate revolt.

I waited tables, I bartended, I supported myself and lived a little.

When I decided to go back to school, I returned to my first love - counting.

My parents followed their own paths in life. They followed their hearts and minds; they did as they pleased despite what other people thought of them.

My dad loves being a carpenter. He uses expensive natural materials and does things the hard way because he likes to.

My mother brings curriculum to life and teaches children a passion for learning and for living. She loves to teach.

When I tell them how much I love what I do, they remember that I am doing what I love. This pursuit they truly understand and they are proud.

Jessica Somers lives in

Vancouver.

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