Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Learning Curve

Conversation with youngest daughter, who is 18:
"Cara, you might want to make back up plans for a summer job. Just because you applied at the historical society doesn't mean that you will get that job. I see Whirley is hiring kids for the summer..."
Before I can finish, Cara is snapping that she is NOT going to work at Whirley (a local plant that makes plastic cups). She is going to have a job she likes. She tells me that if she doesn't get the job at the Historical Society, she is going to work at a church camp. She hasn't applied there either. She makes the absurd statement that they get paid minimum wage for 24 hours a day because they live there. This means that she has not applied here. She knows nothing about it. I know for a fact that the struggling church camp is not paying 30 or 40 counsellors $1000 per week. I also know that they are already beginning to hire for the summer, that the people with first preference will be the people who worked there last year. By the time that Cara finds out whether or not she has a job with the Historical Society, it may well be too late to get a job at the camp. I try to tell her that she can apply for multiple jobs now, and then pick from them later, but Cara has her mind made up. I try to tell her that if she waits until the last minute, she may well wind up with a job she doesn't like at all, with not enough hours.
But Cara is 18,
and she knows everything.
She starts to get angry.
Cara is going to learn it the hard way, it appears. The cardinal rule of life, that we all pay our dues. If she doesn't earn enough money over the summer, she's going to have to work while she goes to college. She hasn't learned that sometimes you do what you have to do. She has not learned that her summer job will not define her life, but that if she persists in her insistance that the most important thing is enjoying herself, well...that attitude will define her life and it will not be a good thing. She sounds self indulgent and willful, believing that all that really matters is her desires and her needs. She hasn't learned that sometimes experience is the best teacher and that her parents are just a tad more experienced at living.
Cara is setting out to learn a few lessons the hard way. I love her enough that I'm going to stand back and let her learn them.
And the one thing that I solemnly vow is that
when she runs up hard against life,
and she turns to the safety of home,
there will be a hug waiting.
There will be comfort.
And not one person here is going to say, "I told you so."
Even though we did.


jeanie said...

Oh - the hardest lesson to learn, and possibly one that your forebears said to their children!

Mary Paddock said...

I have one who will be eighteen next month. We're dealing with the same thing. None of the jobs in our small town are good enough for him: Pizza Hut, bagging groceries, etc. He's got a good work ethic--once he commits himself to a job he tends to shine, but he's convinced he's worth more than minimum wage. Exactly how did I raise one of these?

I informed him that one's first job tends to suck and are designed to suck so as to prompt the suckee to pursue a college education. He rolled his eyes.

However as college is just over a year a way and he needs a car which his working class parents wouldn't buy for him even if they had the money, I think he's growing less picky.

Hal Johnson said...

Ah yes, I remember being eighteen like it was yesterday. Sadly, though, I know longer know everything.

PaintedPromise said...

oh yeah, can i ever relate! i have a just-turned 17 and one who will be 18 in a couple of months. both ended up working the same job, which they claim to hate, but hey, they sure like the paychecks lol