Friday, January 11, 2013

Working kids

Here in Canada a lot of teens get jobs really early - 14, 15, 16 years old.

For some it's a necessity. 
For some it's for experience.
And what teen doesn't like having some of their own cash?

I have long puzzled over what to think about this. 

Our children don't need to work.  School work is our priority as well as team sports, dance, family time etc. I don't want to spend my life driving them to minimum wage jobs.

But I do like the the notion of responsibility and experience it would give them in the real world.  I didn't have that growing up in South Africa where there was (shamefully) plenty of cheap labour and white kids didn't work when they were at high school.  I could have used some experience.

When driving the school girls rugby team to a game last year something in our conversation caused a very impassioned little speech from one of the Grade 11 girls to my then Grade 8 girl to not work.  She said if you don't have to work don't - you get 5 summers in high school and then real life will kick in and you will never have that time back.  I was impressed with her conversation and Lindsay and I chatted about it afterwards.

This is all brought to my mind now as Lindsay will have worked nearly 9 hours this week.  And regularly works 6 hours a week.

She did the St.Johns babysitting course in Grade 6 or 7 and has been babysitting since then.  In many ways the perfect job but one that is often undervalued.

Lindsay is a very mature girl and she is super clear about her strengths and her limits.  She will ask to meet you and the children together before she babysits.  She has a list of questions.  She listens carefully to what you want.  She asks things that will keep her and the kids safe.

To some people she may be "just a teenage babysitter" but she takes her job very seriously, especially the profound responsibility of being in charge of caring for little children.  She cares about your kids.  She will buy them birthday and Christmas gifts out of her own money.  She will bring a book to read them she knows they will love, or a seasonal activity.  She will miss family events because she won't cancel on you (so don't cancel on her at the last minute).  She will be clear about her limits.  If she says she won't bathe your infant be thankful she is being honest.  She stays up late waiting for you (and often does her homework) so be home when you say you will.  And drive her home safe.

She loves "her kids" and loves being in their lives.  She is great fun and she has great fun.  And she loves having her own little income with which she is very generous.

I am pleased this job fits so well into her schedule and that these families have found what a gem she is.

I think she has found the perfect balance.

David is also a fantastic babysitter with his St.Johns certificate and he is less booked up than Lindsay is..... but really....and not just because I am their Mom ...they are both wonderful teenagers who love kids and a great job looking after them.

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