Growing up, I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to become an adult and do things my way. After all, I was a teenager and teenagers know everything. My first babysitting job gave me a taste of that independence that I craved. I finally could go out and buy new clothes, go to the movies and do all those things that others were doing.
I can think of a handful of events that defined the major life choices I made up until now. I’ll share a very distinct one but first some background.
As much as I love my dear old mom, we fought a lot during my last years of high school. We lived in a tiny 900 square foot apartment and she’d do things like go into my room and randomly throw things away without my knowledge or consent. Most of the time I found out about it, but sometimes she would do this dastardly deed on garbage day. My room wasn’t the problem. It was the porch, basement, attic and her bags and bags of fabric that was the problem. Her efforts to organize MY STUFF, the cleanest and most uncluttered space in the whole house drove me bananas. Plus after growing up in a one bedroom log cabin with 11 people, she had no concept of my need for privacy and/or personal space.
At around that time, I decided I was going to move out of the house the minute I graduated from high school. I applied for and was accepted at 2 local places. I was happy. I was making money and I was going to escape and be free of Mrs. throw my stuff away and never give me a moment’s peace mother.
I eagerly anticipated that first check. I worked 5 days that week (for a total of 20 hours) and I was counting down the days to payday. When payday arrived, I quickly ripped open my check to discover that after taxes, I only made a measly $113. $113 for 5 days work????!!! Wow. I did the math to figure out how many hours I would have to work to pay for an apartment and a car. It was about 87 hours per week. Ugh.. My plan had fallen apart. Luckily I was only a sophmore in high school and all was not lost.
This was a life changing moment for me because until that point, I didn’t particularly like school and didn’t want to go to college. Even if you’re not a math whiz, it doesn’t take a genius to realize there was no easy way to get ahead making minimum wage. I needed skills.
I took a typing class and tried working at the local paper but I failed the typing test miserably. In hindsight, it was the best class I ever took. At the time I was annoyed because I got a B (I hate being bad at stuff), and it brought my grade point average down. I went onto college, worked all kinds of odd jobs and had very little downtime. What kept me going is knowing that lifestyle was temporary and the alternative would be worse.
I sometimes speculate whether my kids will learn similar lessons. They (hopefully) won’t be roughing it like I did but I think a job would be good for them.
So my question to you:
- If you have kids, will you make them get a job when they get to be working age?
- Was there a moment or experience in your life that defined the path that you are on now?
- What advice do you have for those teenage kids that think they’re smarter than you?