A note on summer

Photo credit:  Emily Brenner

Photo credit: Emily Brenner

My first summer job was at a card shop in the mall. My mom loaded my older brother and I up in the car, dropped us at the mall, and told us to fill out some applications. When the card shop called me back I was thrilled. Cards didn't involve food prep, grease, or bathroom cleaning, so I figured I was on easy street. And it was a decent enough job. They let me arrange the pewter trinkets and glass paper weights and Precious Moments figurines to my heart's content.

I also worked at a kite shop, taught aerobics, made pizzas, dressed up as the Foley's Easter Bunny, and had a pretty decent stint as a grocery checker (that job is heck on the fingernails). One summer, for two weeks, my brother and I even agreed to take on a friend's mammoth paper route delivering the Houston Chronicle. We borrowed an old van, and I folded about eight million newspapers while my brother drove (in a lurching fashion) through an endless tangle of streets. Occasionally, I would throw up in the back because the smell of the newsprint at 4 AM made me nauseous. Yep, I'm a trooper.

All of this to say, I worked during high school. A lot.

With summer approaching there's been a lot of talk around here about the girls finding jobs. In the past I've been a bit on the fence when it comes to my kids working. The rational part of me knows that having a job teaches responsibility, commitment, and the value of a dollar. But the philosophical (and let's face it, hippy) side of me says, "RUN FREE YOUNG ONE. BASK IN THE SUMMER SUN. REVEL IN THE LANGUISHING DAYS OF YOUR YOUTH," which, roughly translated, might just mean: sleep half the day, watch a whole bunch of Netflix, and hit your mother up for cash to hang with your homies.

This summer, Sterling and I are encouraging a solid 20 hour a week job. For us, right now, I think the kids need the structure as well as a goal to work towards We will be having a conversation with the older girls about what financial obligations we expect them to meet next year -- like . . . nail polish, doughnuts, and Chipotle burritos are all on them.

What do you think about summer jobs and teens? Did you work in high school?

There was an interesting article in Time last summer discussing teens and summer jobs. You can read it here.