"School's out for summer… "Alice Cooper's song blared from my radio back in the '70s and I enthusiastically sang along.

Once again, school is indeed out for summer. At church this week, no one was singing an Alice Cooper song, but all the homeschooling moms were high-fiving each other because we have completed another school year.

How can we make the most of summertime for our teenagers? Let them sleep until noon and have video game marathons? No! Have them join the work force. Getting a summer job is a rite of passage, a step on the path to independence.

Two weeks ago, I took my teenage son, Zachary, to the grocery store so he could apply for a job. Having him fill out that application form was an education in itself. After he turned that in, he was given 20 more forms to fill out. Now that he's written his social security number 500 times, he may finally have it memorized. Because Zachary is under eighteen, I had to sign a release for them to do a drug test—a swab they placed between his teeth and cheek. The results took three days. He passed.

The first two days of work, Zachary sat through endless hours of training videos. He now knows that if he calls any of his co-workers "Doll or Sweetie Pie" it will be considered sexual harassment. Zachary had pages of rules to read so he carried them around and studies for days – more effort than he ever put into algebra, that's for sure. He learned that if anyone tries to tip him, he's supposed to "return the money with thanks." For a shy kid, "Facing each customer with a greeting and a smile" will be the hardest part.

The manager told Zachary, "Your hair can't be below your ears in front and must be off your collar in back." He had been growing his mop for months, hoping to achieve "coolness", so he was bummed. You would have that he was Sampson by the way he sat in the barber's chair and mournfully watch his curls fall onto the tile floor.. The barber assured him, "Don't worry, you won't lose your strength." 

Zachary is now working bagging groceries at the supermarket. Finally, for a few hours a day, he has to answer to a higher power - John, the store manager. As Zachary leaves for work each day, I cheerfully remind him, "Bread on top."

This summer I hope he learns:

  • Being On Time Isn't only Important To Mom and Dad.
    The business world runs on a clock.
  • Appearance Counts.
    Clean clothes and good personal hygiene are expected in most jobs.
  • Work Isn't Always Easy
    That why they call it "work."
  • Teamwork is important
    When you're on the job, you're part of a team. You learn that you are a cog in the wheel that makes the business work.
  • You Represent Your Employer
    When you put on that shirt and name tag, you are a reflection of the company and they expect you to represent them well.
  • Answer To A Higher Power
    Learning to deal with a supervisor/boss will help in the future. Zachary will always answer to someone: first and forever he'll answer to God, for a few more years, parents, and probably always a boss.

If you have a teen, do a little research of your local employment opportunities. Then, do your child a favor and help them find a job.

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Tonya has a wealth of information to share. She is a pastor's wife, homeschooling mom, and grandma. Check out her parenting and homeschooling blog at: http://parentingandhomeschooling.blogspot.com/
And her website at www.TonyaRuiz.com