If you’re a regular reader (thank you!), you know that Jim and I have raised two mostly unspoiled boys. We don’t buy them everything they want, and when it comes to most of their technology and other high-end items (computers, iPods, video camera, guitar, game systems), they have saved on their own and then made the purchases. We’re glad we did it this way for many reasons, not the least of which being that they really take care of their stuff.

The younger boy, now fourteen, has really gotten the hang of this “saving money” thing. He has always relied on his allowance, monthly (during the school year) hot lunch money (which he doesn’t use: he saves it), birthday money, etc. in order to get what he wants, as well as build up a nice savings account. But he really wants to work and earn more money, right now for guitars but soon he’ll start thinking about getting his own car.

He has watched his brother earn money by babysitting and cleaning the salon on Sundays, and he is plenty jealous. He wants that salon job really, really badly. You see, my boss had them BOTH train with her son 18 months ago, so that the younger boy could step in if the older boy needed a week off. That doesn’t happen, though. The older boy holds onto his Salon Sundays like crazy.

And babysitting? Um, no. The younger boy, who was a baby when I started working in that health club nursery, does NOT enjoy small children (in the babysitting sense) and is not ashamed to admit it. He has, occasionally, done some group babysitting at temple events with the older boy and others and despises it. And that’s okay. If he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like it. I would not encourage any teen who doesn’t like the idea of taking care of children to babysit; that’s just asking for trouble.

So…no salon. No babysitting. What’s a fourteen-year-old to do?

For one thing, prepare for when he turns sixteen and can get a job.

I have spoken to the older boy over the past couple of years about how I think it’d be a great idea for him to get a job at a casual restaurant as a server, get some good training, and then work his way through college at a higher-end restaurant (higher check totals=much bigger tips). Though he has always given me the blank stare and the “yes, mom” nod, he’s not really going in that direction. Shame. But I discovered that somebody else was listening.

One night a couple of months ago, we were finishing dinner. The younger boy got up and started to clear the table, but instead of doing it like he normally did before that night (taking one plate in each hand and delivering it a few feet away to the kitchen), he put one plate in his left hand, the second plate further up on his arm, and grabbed a third plate with the right hand, slowly walking to the kitchen.

“I think we have a server here!” I said as he smiled from ear to ear.

Every time he has cleared the table since, he does it in this way. Maybe I’ll get him an order pad and he can practice that, too. He’s got 18 months before he can get a real job; plenty of time to master the other basics!