Whatever it Takes

I began working the day that I turned sixteen. Sixteen was the legal age to begin working without getting permission from the guidance counsellor at school, or going through the ROP program.

I loved my first job where I worked in the snack bar of a local rollerskating rink. The fringe benefits included getting free dill pickles and bags of popcorn until I was promoted to cashier and then floor guard. At that point, I had to collect sweaty skates at days end, spray the inside with deodorizer and scrape gum of the floors of the roller rink. I never complained.

When I needed to make more money I got a second job at Sandy's Ski and Sport. My girlfriend and I rented out snow skis and neon colored, waterproof overalls to folks making a visit to the local mountains. I learned how to tune up snow skis using p-tex and hot wax in the winter months, and in the summer months we spent our days renting our water skis and selling skimpy bathing suits, life jackets, and flip flops.

My senior year, I needed to make a little bit more money in order to support my senior trip to Hawaii with 300 friends from high school, so I took on a third job, working at a Mobil Gas station. There I collected cash and credit cards, turned on the appropriate pumps and sold soda and chips from a small stand centered among the gas pump bays. The gas station job was temporary and served as a means for me to pay the final deposit of my trip and collect enough spending money to buy a sweet pukka shell necklace and tour Pearl Harbor among other things. This job was also the result of my glass jar filled with silver coins labeled "Hawaii" getting stolen from my bedroom along with my cherry red "beach cruiser" bike which was parked next to my bed. I loved that bike.

You see, I did whatever it was going to take. There were things I wanted to do, gas for my car that I needed to purchase, places I wanted to go, and I did what was necessary to earn the funds. I wan't "too cool" for any job that handed me a paycheck every two weeks. I would have worked at a library if I had passed the interview process and gotten past Sister Mary Dewey Decimal. That's another story.

In 2009, how many teenagers will do whatever it takes. How many care enough about having their own money, and earning their own wages, to help out with the responsibilities of a car, insurance, gas, food, and fun? How many are handed everything and never experience the sheer weight of true responsibility?

Am I guilty of giving too much to my kids and handing them too much, for little or nothing?

I need to reevaluate, without of course, making them work three jobs at once.