Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vacuuming on Sunday Morning

This past Sunday I went early to a restaurant I eat at regularly. I was the first customer, as I frequently am. As I was seated at table '95' (my favorite) I could hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner. The manager of the restaurant approached me as she vacuumed. She was quite a sight, with her vacuum cleaner strapped to her back. She looked a little like one of the characters in Ghost Busters! She said, "I got a late start this morning!" We proceeded to joke about her Ghost Busters costume.

I had a flashback to my teenage years when I worked for Jan's Food Mill in Forest Grove Oregon. I worked there all through high school as a dishwasher, cook, hostess and occasional waitress.

On Sunday mornings, we had a brunch. I was the Sunday morning seating hostess. Part of my duties, among many, were to come in early and vacuum the dining room, make sure all the tables were clean and set properly for brunch, etc. Hence the connection to my manager friend and her vacuum cleaner this morning -- at least in my mind!

I really enjoyed working at that restaurant. I had a lot of responsibility there, and learned the value of hard work. It felt good to earn my own money and pay for my own school clothes. I was also able to buy (and fuel) a car. Those early days of self reliance have carried me far in life.

I worry a bit about how insulated a lot of teenagers today are from the work world. I see many kids not having part time jobs. Some are super involved in sports or other extra curricular activities. Some complain about being board in school and opt for skipping grades, rather than simply finding ways to make their time in school more challenging.

I'm a big believer in teenagers working and earning at least a part of their way. I'd like to see more of them saving for their own college expenses and taking responsibility for managing their time between school work and paid employment. It creates a firm foundation for the future.

I did participate in a few extra curricular activities when I was a teenager, although I must admit that they fizzled away as I worked more. I still believe it was a good trade off. I know, in some ways, I missed some care free aspects of my youth. I gained something I feel is more valuable in making my way in the world as a trade off, and I believe that was a good trade.

Having everything done for you, or given to you when you are young can create a sense of unrealistic expectation and entitlement that can hinder a person in their life experience. I hope all parents consider that when helping their children make decisions about how to spend their time in their teenage years. Increasing responsibility for oneself is part of the growing up process. Too many kids leave the nest too dependent on mom and dad for their 'daily bread.' Let's create healthy, confident and capable kids!

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