When Bishu hit fourteen I started listening to many job-related stories from him. Excitedly he used to tell me, "Mum, my friend X is turning 15 in July so he's preparing a job application," or "You know, my friend Y has started working at this/that place," or "When I turn 15 next year I'll also start working...." I was not so serious at that time, though.
The turning point in my thought process came when Bishu began analyzing his job options as soon as he turned 15 in March this year. I just could not believe he was that determined to secure a job for him. "Are you sure, you want to work?" I used to ask him time and again with disbelief. He always had a definite answer, "Yes." During the conversations with him I found out that all of his best buddies were working here and there and earning their own money. Now the penny dropped. I could understand the real meaning of the McDonald's person's response above.
I have read that one of the important needs of adolescent children is to gain independence. They want to act more like adults. From this perspective, earning their own money can be a confidence booster for them. However, in our culture a 15 year old child never goes out searching for a job under normal circumstances; which is why I was quite amused to see Bishu considering getting a job.
After conducting a significant amount of research Bishu decided to work at KFC. Then he proceeded accordingly. After going through the various levels of interviews and training programs he eventually started working.
When he received his first payslip I asked him, "How do you feel to earn your own money, Bishu?" I saw his eyes light up as he smiled broadly and replied, "A sense of pride. Now I can spend my own for the things I like. It's so....Good."
After seeing him working for a period of time, I was positively surprised when his academic performance at school did not show any sign of decline. That is when I realized that the owner from McDonald's was not in fact trying to corrupt the young minds at all! In Australian culture, it is evident that parents accept that their kids getting a job is a part of growing up - something to be approached with a sense of hope rather than despair. Well, you learn something new everyday!