Kids and first jobs

Teenage boy standing in front of a Cessna airplane

This is our high achieving older son; he’s a whirlwind of activity and has developed a set of skills and sense of discipline that I never would have suspected that he was capable of just a few short years ago. Discovering who your children are becoming as they enter the teen years is endlessly interesting. I look at our eight-year old and realize how little we know him at this stage – he has so much developing to do in this regard, even though we feel we know him so well. We do know him as well as we can, but he’s really only just beginning that journey of ‘becoming’.

Oldest son is also motivated to earn money, always a good thing, and has been finding ways to create jobs for himself since he was about 11. He had his first regular job doing grass cutting and gardening for family friends who were also our neighbours a couple of summers ago, has done stints delivering local newspapers and leaflets, and is about to embark on his first ‘permanent’ job at the local library this winter. In the meantime, though, he was offered a spot as a junior camp counselor during the Christmas holidays and was keen to take it up. He had the option of working during both weeks of the holidays or just one of the weeks. The option to make more money was appealing, but we were generous with our advice: this kid is used to having two weeks off every Christmas – working for both of them would be a bit of a rude awakening. He’s going through a fairly amenable phase at the moment and was open to this advice (a natural maverick, he naturally shuns advice most of the time, no matter how good it may sound to us), thankfully.

When I talked to him tonight, he was clearly shattered and briefly explained his exhaustion: “four hours in the pool and post-camp activities”! He has just the right skills to be helping out with a water-focused camp, but that much time in the pool combined with focusing on the safety of younger children does indeed sound very tiring. So, he’s pooped!

I’m in favour of all of the above and am feeling good about his exhaustion: by the time I was his age I had held down several good jobs myself, including a double Ottawa-Citizen newspaper route that required me to own a good sturdy wagon, a stint selling from the ‘Regal’ catalogue, babysitting, and another good stint as (as far as I know) Canada’s youngest Avon lady! No kidding. (And I must add, I did a lot of slogging door to door with my selling jobs – my mother did help by taking the catalogues to her own place of work in case anyone was interested, but the responsibility was mine and I took it very seriously.)

If a kid is doing well enough at school and can juggle a job in their free time, there are no real down-sides in my view and my husband shares this outlook. The opportunities for learning in a very hands-on way about time management, money management, making choices and setting priorities, and a host of related things are too good to be missed.

We also have the added bonus of being in a small town, which means that when our son’s new job starts up this winter, he’ll be in walking/cycling distance of his job. This means he can be truly independent and won’t have to rely on parental chauffeuring. Which makes me wonder when we can send his younger brother out to work…(kidding!).

So, what was your first job? I’d love to hear about it.

2 thoughts on “Kids and first jobs

  1. As we now know, Oldest son has mono – a disease that virtually shuts down the body’s ability to use energy. But this guy is as gutsy as they come, and it is quite likely that he will fight his way back. Forthunately, he is surrounded by folks who will give him all the support he needs. G.

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