Teenagers, Coffee and Jobs


Recently Jane asked me if I’d buy a coffee maker. You see she has a soy allergy so Starbucks and the like is not an option for her. There’s soymilk everywhere and when she has it there’s two days of feeling ill. Jane would like to drink some coffee in the morning and since I don’t have a coffee maker and she has the allergy that would require purchasing one.

I have thoughts about kids and caffeine. My kids have occasional sodas when we are at a restaurant. We don’t have soda in the house and I stopped drinking coffee sometime around 2010 when I had the flu and didn’t leave my bedroom for four days straight. With that being said I’m not militant about caffeine, just reserved. So when Jane asked about coffee I asked my Facebook friends what they would do and the answers were all over the place.

I think what surprised me most was the number of people who think a 16 year old should buy their own coffee maker. Which led me to another question. Are 16 year old kids working these days? None of the local stores here will hire a 16 year old. There are plenty of college graduates pushing buttons at McDonalds and Starbucks. Movie theaters are staffed by adults and the unemployment rate in Los Angeles is still higher than most of the country so I never considered asking my kids to get jobs.

Also, I’d like them to concentrate on being students.

Here is a smattering of the comments:

Tell her for $25 she can purchase a 3-4 cup machine at Target and you’ll gladly loan her the counter space?


Buy them instant coffee and tell them to get a job.


She can save up for her own with her part time job


Let them pick out which one they want. (on their dime)


No reason why she can’t buy her own. They have to learn that at some point. My post college son just paid his first doctor bill.


luxury items can be vetoed, veto the request




Send her to my house where the pot is always warm, and I’ll always be ready to sip with her:)


She CAN work for it. You may have found something that motivates her, that’s awesome! When I was her age, I was publishing a magazine and working as a live-in au pair half of my weekends.


You buy a coffee maker.

There is a lot of input about what people did when they were teens. I had a job at 15. My manager at the Mann Theaters always wanted to see my boobs. That was awesome. When I was 17 and worked at the Glen Center a certain celebrity used to grab me from behind and say, “My girlfriend is about your size. What should I buy her?” I was fired from that job because I didn’t know how to iron things. I think I could have entered the workforce at 18 and had the same success but that’s just an anecdote, I’m just one person.

My kid is 11. He and I both plan that he will have a job when he’s 16. He’ll have to pay for his own car insurance or he won’t be able to drive. Chauffeur is not on my resume.


After raising one adult with the mentality that school should be their job, I have now decided that my younger two will need to work minimal hours once they are driving to help understand the the concept of earning money.


I grew up poor. My mom couldn’t afford money for lunch when I had a debate match or other school trip so as soon as I was able, I got a job. I was 16 and I haven’t stopped working since. But I agree – if you don’t NEED the money (I went hungry without it) then a teen needs a chance to be a KID and not work.


I had a job after school and weekends from 16 and up. My kids will also work after school, weekends and summers once they’re of legal working age.


I don’t have a teen so my mileage may very but I had a job starting at 14. I agree that school (and extracurriculars) are your job, but we had a family business, which changes that dynamic somewhat I think. I still didn’t buy my own food, or any necessities. “My” money was for fun/entertainment/fashion, and I enjoyed the freedom of wanting something and being able to buy it myself. My parents still supported me.


My youngest brother is 17 now, and job opportunities for teens have changed considerably with the recession. Jobs that used to be for high schoolers are now held by adults. He couldn’t get a job if he wanted to, unless he was able to find someone’s dad or similar to hire him. Contrast to his older siblings who were all ABLE to work. So I think that is definitely a factor.


I would have summer jobs, but during the school year my mom was insistent that I focus on school. As for coffee… Im still surprised teenagers even drink coffee in high school. I wasn’t introduced to coffee until college… that and LSD.

I love Facebook and blogs because teens are not at all alike. Two year olds are all developing mostly the same, six year olds too. By the time you hit adolescence kids and parents are all concentrating on different things. Some kids are entering puberty, others are playing in the sandbox. With every year that progresses my parenting diverges more from the ideal and becomes Jane and Alexander’s ideal.

My friend Sharon is 10 years older than I am and her children are 10 years older than each of mine. She has warned me that when they’re little you’re a manager and as they age you become a consultant. I think we have reached the age of consultancy with Jane and we are in a transition period with Alexander.

When my kids were in elementary school I knew what kind of mother I’d be to middle school kids. By the time my kids hit middle school I knew that I had no clue what high school would bring. Every year I’m less certain about what we’re doing but when I parent with my child in mind (as opposed to an imaginary perfect child) I’m pretty sure we’re on the right track. Even if it’s not your track.

I have two questions:

Does your teenage child have a job?

Does your teenage child drink coffee?

I Know How to Work at Home Without Ruining Everyone’s Lives


My husband doesn’t know how to work at home. He knows how to work and he knows how to work while he’s in our home but working from home is a skill that requires finesse and not everyone knows how to do it. This morning Mr. G worked from home for about an hour and I realized that one of my talents is knowing how to run a business from home without turning my whole house into a business.

I have some level of mastery. I’ve been working from home for almost 15 years. I am a mother and a wife before I am a business owner. I’ve made a bold statement and an important decision that manifests in small and large ways each and every day.

I have business hours. By and large my business hours are when the kids are in school or camp. This means that most Augusts I don’t work much. When the kids were tiny my office hours were 9 to noon or 2-3 hours when they were napping. If Jane didn’t love her sleep so much as a baby I wouldn’t have started a business. Quite simply put I was bored when she was sleeping.

If you’re working from home and you don’t have business hours you’ve turned your home into a workplace. When you have business hours you’ve taken a corner of your home and created a home office. The distinction between the two is an important one.

I’m the only person in the house who cares about my business. Although I could be on a conference call during carpool time I won’t. I don’t do this because it’s rude and my children deserve common courtesy. I wouldn’t have a girlfriend sit in the car while I negotiated a deal, why would I do that to my children? There’s a myth about women who do it all and their ability to multitask. These multitasking people you speak of are simply shifting their attention faster than most. Don’t mistake multitasking for being present.

It’s insulting to not be the most important person in the room. If I used to spend time with you and no longer do it might be because of your incessant phone-checking. Although cell phones have given us the ability to get a lot of things done on the fly they’ve also allowed work to intrude on our social time. When we share time with another person and are being ignored (even for seconds) so that the other person can check for more important conversations it’s like being pricked with a pin. All those little pin pricks can really hurt.

To be clear it will never upset me to spend time with another parent and have them completely ignore me for a few moments when their child calls. Pick up your phone to check Facebook when we’re hanging out? Done. It’s like we’re at a party and you’re looking over my shoulder for someone better to talk to. My ego can’t take it. Now imagine that I’m four and I’m trying to play a game with my parent who is on their phone. That’s a lot of rejection at four or at 40. More than anyone deserves. More than a child can withstand.

Know your point of diminishing returns. I can work for 3 hours straight with zero interruptions and be incredibly productive. By the time the fourth hour begins I don’t have much left and I really need a break. I can work a six hour day and get a lot done but that seventh hour is useless. I never even try. At different times in my life these numbers have varied, when the kids were tiny I worked an hour or two a day and the days have gotten progressively longer. There’s a limit to what you can do. Know your limit. Enjoy your life.

There are a lot of mompreneurs in my Facebook feed. Many are bloggers, network marketers or affiliate marketers. I’m lucky that cell use was very expensive when my kids were toddlers. The park can be boring, train sets can be mind numbing, putting on a princess dress for the 93rd time in a day would make a martyr twitchy but those are the reasons you wanted to work from home. You wanted to raise those kids so spend the time with them and not with the screen. Raise the kids, be a parent who has a job. It’s really easy to be the parent who turned their home into an office but it can’t be fun to be that kid.




What If You Weren’t a Mom?


During one of the many drives we take around town Jane asked me to buy her something expensive. I don’t recall what it was. It wasn’t totally unnecessary or out of line, it was simply something expensive and I cannot recall if it’s something we could not afford to chose to not afford. I don’t often tell the children which is which, rather I default to choice.

We are terrible about teaching our kids the value of a dollar because we have little respect for a dollar. The kids have allowance and a good but not incredible work ethic. When they run out of money I’ll give them the opportunity to earn more but I’m quite happy to buy them things they don’t need. A better mother might make them work for these things.

It gives me joy to give to my children and I fight internal battles every time I overindulge but they’re good kids. They’re very good kids so I know I haven’t spoilt them.

In any event Jane was asking me for something and I told her that we just couldn’t swing it and then joked about her being really really expensive (and for once I was understating the facts). She gave me some kind of face and told her I’d see if I could pick up a little extra work. This is when we had a surprising but long overdue discussion.

JANE: I’m sorry I’m so expensive Mom. [She is, in fact, not sorry but she’s wise enough to be sweetly apologetic. Maybe she could manage the Pantages Theater twitter account.]

ME: It’s okay honey, you’re a kid. It’s your job to be expensive.

JANE:  I bet if you didn’t have kids you’d work a lot less.

ME: Nope, just the opposite would be true.

JANE: But you wouldn’t need as much money.

ME: People work for more than money. When do you see me work?

JANE: I don’t see it but I know you do it when we’re gone.

ME: If I didn’t have you guys [Alexander is in the car for this exchange] I’d probably work more. I’d probably go to an office every single day, come home late at night and take every opportunity to travel.

JANE: Really? Then why don’t you do that? [she was genuinely confused]

ME: What happens when I’m on one of my trips?

JANE: Nothing. We eat out a lot.

ME: How do you do when I’m gone?

JANE: Okay but sometimes I need you.

ME: How does your brother do when I’m gone.

JANE: He really needs you.

ME: And did you feel like you needed me more three years ago when you were the same age?

Jane shrugs.

ME: I’m really happy to be home for you guys. I love you and being your mom is my job but with the way Daddy works we can’t have two of us working like that.

We talked more about the fact that I’m really lucky that work has been a choice. We’re all lucky that their Dad hadn’t been laid off and no one had to flip burgers on the midnight shift but that we absolutely would because the only thing that’s undignified is the refusal to work hard. I talked to her about diligence being more important than talent or intelligence and then I talked to her about homework and mascara and My Chemical Romance because really when you’re driving around town in your Mom’s hybrid you don’t really give a shit if she wants to work or not.

I think she heard me. All I can do is say it.

The Value of Rest: A Note to Target, WalMart and KMart Shoppers


I’ve started this post a dozen times and deleted hundreds of characters. I wanted to explain to you the import of rest. I wanted to tell you that shopping after your Thanksgiving meal is obscene. I was going to remind you that you weren’t really saving money buying sale tchotchkes that you wouldn’t otherwise have purchased. I was going to remind you how utterly depressing it would be to look at a checker at WalMart, KMart or Target and know that they just don’t get a normal holiday because you showed up.

I was going to ask you to stay home after your Thanksgiving dinner.

Then I realized that if you’re looking to bail on your family and friends that Thursday night we are likely at an impasse before we begin. It’s inconceivable to me that anyone would want to cut the evening short and you likely wouldn’t trust my opinion anyhow.

What I would hope we all keep in mind is the need for rest. Every religion has a sabbath and every physician has prescribed rest for ailments ranging from colds to cancer. Athletes know that rest days increase both strength and endurance. When our children are little we work hard to maintain their sleep and nap schedules, when they outgrow naps there is often scheduled downtime in the afternoons. Then we send them to school and tell them they’ll rest when they retire.

Obesity is linked to bad sleep habits.

We emphasize hard work and reward it with praise and money. When the Greek economy collapsed and we heard about their work hours and early retirements we rolled our eyes and said, “of course”. When executives come here from England and Australia they are horrified by the lack of vacation days and the fact that they may sit at their desks in the evenings. We do things differently here in America.

When my husband proposed in London he presented me with a ring that was a little loose. I needed to have it sized or at a minimum to buy a ring guard. On the evening of December 23rd that was impossible and it had to wait until the 26th and even then not everything was open. During the Olympic games shopkeepers in London were allowed to stay open longer hours on Sundays (they have laws about those things) and someone mentioned to me that they hadn’t actually made more money, just worked more hours. I suspect that is true but cannot confirm.

Sometimes when you’re weird you’re cutting edge. Sometimes when you’re weird you’ve just got problems.

I used to be really good about taking a digital sabbath. I used to be the mom that would power down her phone when she was with her kids because if the kids are with you there can’t be an emergency, right? Recently I’ve slipped into answering emails in the early evenings because my iphone makes it so easy.

You see we’re all guilty of not prioritizing and the businesses aren’t making us behave the way we do. They’re just reacting to our behavior. One of Target’s employees has started a petition, knowing full well she’ll likely be fired for it, asking them to take the high road and save Thanksgiving. I’d never want to legislate the hours that stores can be open, but I’m game for a bit of shame.

The Price of Free


I’d committed to doing a little bit of work. It’s not much but it didn’t benefit me in any measurable way and it was work. It was at night and to be perfectly frank it’s sometimes good to just get out of the house. We’re all guilty of using an event as a night out.

Well, Mr. G came home Monday night and told me he had a work event Thursday night and that I should plan on him not being home until after 10 or so. I moaned, “But I have a work thing too and I’m totally committed. I’ll just call the sitter I guess.”

He asked me how much I was making and I told him nothing.

He asked me how it would help my business and I sort of shrugged.

He asked me how much we’d spend on childcare and why I thought the kids didn’t need my help with homework. Then he asked me if he could just write a check to the folks who conned me into working for free on the Thursday night and then the cost would only be monetary instead of emotional and physical too.

I cancelled because I have a family that comes first. I kind of feel like shit about it but I also kind of feel like that’s what you get when you decide to pay no one.

Photocredit Flickr