"You're young, you've got your health. What you want with a job?" — Raising Arizona
Every summer of my teenage existence there would be a day when for no obvious reason (to me and my siblings anyway) my mom would be highly agitated by our physical presence. If you listened closely (which we often didn't), she could be heard uttering things like, "This isn't a flop house." "There are chores to be done." "Go find something to do." "Get a job!"
We're only into the second week of summer and I've already experienced sluggish teens lying around and generally causing agitation both to me and their youngest brother (who seems to have no trouble occupying himself).
Chained to cells phones, texting and a steady diet of ESPN, they seem to be waiting for something to happen, though what exactly is anybody's guess. Middle son does a better job of getting out of the house, except that he seems to do so before having done his chores. In fact, he's quite stealthy in his ways. I'll either be on the phone or deep in thought working on something when he quietly mouths, "Mom, I'm going to Chris's house." I'll wave him away (as in I can't talk about this now) and he takes my wave as tacit approval to disappear.
I look in his room and there sits a basket full of clean laundry, an unmade bed and blinds that have yet to be opened. The basement (which we refer to as his apartment) will have cups and wrappers from the previous night's snacking strewn about. Oy! Thankfully, he's only a cell phone call away.
I've come to the realization that my oldest needs a J-O-B. His early mornings are filled with working out for football. His evenings are for fun and hanging with friends. But he's spent most afternoons flopped on the couch in front of ESPN Classic, watching old college football games.
The problem is, he's only 15 1/2. Were he 16, all sorts of employment options would be available. But this age thing is a real problem. I'll admit, I've been somewhat torn about insisting he work. After all, he has the rest of his life to work. Youth is so fleeting. But he wants money and he needs something to do. Plus he's starting driving and gas is expensive. So we're getting that work permit.
I am forever preaching "resourcefulness" as a virtue and to his credit, oldest found a job nearby that will give him some cash at least until school begins. And the important thing is that it not be a pain in the butt for me, which it isn't because he knows other kids who work there and can provide rides.
Once football is over and he turns 16 then we can reassess his job opportunities. But right now a little bit of something is better than afternoons of nothing.