Putting Kids to Work

 Breeder's Corner, General  Comments Off on Putting Kids to Work
Sep 062010

The Artist didn’t do well his second semester in college.

He’s not the most forthcoming individual, but over the course of time we managed to glean that he wasn’t sure if architecture was the career he really wanted. He isn’t sure what he wants to do—he’s expressed interest in graphic arts, or astronomy.

Personally, I think he wouldn’t enjoy astronomy; I don’t think he realizes how much math is involved. Math is not his strong subject.

As the fall semester approached, his father suggested he sign up for three or four 100-level classes in subjects he thought looked interesting. That way he could get an idea of what they involved, and which one he might actually enjoy doing.

The Artist hemmed and hawed, and procrastinated, and by the time he got around to signing up for classes they were all full. He was waitlisted for every single one of them, and none opened up. With the economy in the toilet many people are going back to college, and the 100-level classes in particular fill up fast.

So he spent a few weeks flopping around the house. He slept all day, and stayed up all night playing video games. I would ask him to do something to help out, like mow the grass, and it wouldn’t be done when I got home.

Eventually Alpha Geek and I laid it out for him. “When you’re a child,” we told him, “we’re both legally and morally obligated to provide you with food, and shelter, and basic necessities. Now that you’re an adult, we don’t have to give you these things. We’re willing to support you while you’re in school, but we’re not willing to support you so you can sleep all day and play computer games all night.”

Of course, he’d heard all this before. But now I brought out my little spreadsheet—an estimation of The Artist’s share of our living expenses. I used averages of our expenses over the last year, divided by three, just to give me some sort of number to work with. Alpha Geek said I was much nicer than he would have been—he would have used the going market rate for renting out a room.

But our purpose wasn’t to tell The Artist that was how much rent he owed us. Instead we used it to figure how much work he’d need to do around the house to earn his keep. Alpha Geek made up a time sheet for him to keep track of what he does and how many hours he spends doing it. I wrote out a list of general maintenance chores, just to get him started with ideas of things to do. And we agreed that if he does work over his weekly minimum, we’ll pay him.

We set all that up a couple of weeks ago. Frankly The Artist seems to like it. He’s got a clear understanding of what we want from him, he feels like he’s contributing to the household, and he gets a little spending money each week to boot. Our yard hasn’t looked this well-kept in years, and it’s nice coming home and finding someone else has unloaded the dishwasher. He’s even vacuumed once or twice.

Meanwhile, The Artist has been asking when registration for spring classes starts. He was pretty disappointed to have missed it this semester, but I think now he’s got a better understanding of why I was pushing him to get on the ball and sign up early.

Back in School

 General  Comments Off on Back in School
Aug 172010

High school starts next week, but college started yesterday. I’ve already done one assignment for my accounting class.

I also signed up for a basic history class, covering “western civilization.” I chose this class for several reasons:

  • Ideally I plan to keep going to school as long as I have time and money to do so. A lot of the higher-level classes require the same first-year classes, like history, English comp, and basic algebra. I’ve already taken quite a few of those basics, might as well take the rest.
  • It looked interesting, and I was afraid I wasn’t getting into my accounting class so I wanted to take something.
  • All of my close friends and relatives are very smart people who can converse intelligently on things like history and world events. My history is quite weak and I can’t really participate. I plan to remedy this so I no longer feel like a fucking moron.

Our instructor is an energetic, self-assured Italian man who paces the front of the room and talks with his hands. He spent the first class going over the syllabus (this is apparently required, all teachers do it the first day) in between anecdotes about prior students and warning us about the dire consequences of plagiarism, failure to study, or not showing up on test day. He referred to himself several times as a “benign dictator.”

I like him already. This is going to be a fun class.