Idle youth: Teenagers today are too lazy to babysit!
When I needed a babysitter for my eight-year-old son, I assumed it would be a piece of cake — a card in the local newsagent’s window and I’d be inundated with teenagers wanting to while away their evenings running up my phone bill while my son snored away in his bedroom.
Teenagers are always after a bit of extra cash, right Well, perhaps 20 years ago. These days, child labour seemingly cannot be secured for love, money or even free WiFi use.
At first, when my postcard garnered not a single response, I assumed it was down to my recruitment methods — I’d forgotten kids these days live their lives via Facebook and BlackBerry messaging. Silly me! I swiftly replicated my wordage on to a Facebook status update, condensed it for Twitter, and jollied it up for an ad on my town’s website.
Don't want to hold the baby: Teens today don't seem interested in earning some extra cash through babysitting (posed by models)
The replies came in fast. Sadly not from my target audience though: not one hard-up fifth-former materialised. Instead, all the interested parties were other mums after pin money, or grannies looking to supplement their pension.
What was going on ‘It’s not like when we were kids,’ my friend Sammy said. ‘Teenagers don’t need to work now.’
I suppose they don’t. With the bank of mum and dad propping them up, the days of earning a purse full of pound notes to spend at Woolies’ make-up counter on a Saturday are — like Woolies’ make-up counter — long gone.
I remember being desperate to turn 13 and get a paper round. For a year, I got up at 5.30am, made my way bleary-eyed to the newsagent’s, loaded up my luminous orange bag and cycled off whatever the weather. All for 6 a week.
Can you imagine a youngster doing that today If I can’t get a student to sit in my living room, be fed the finest snacks Waitrose can offer, and use my internet and TV in exchange for 5.50 an hour, what hope does the guy at the corner shop have getting papers through letter-boxes before breakfast
Work can wait: Some parents prefer their teenagers not to have a job so they can focus on their school work (posed by models)
But while I bemoan the lack of willing-to-work teens, one of my friends actually encourages her youngsters not to work. She is ‘determined’ her daughter will be as ‘bone idle’ as she was she as a teen.
‘My parents took the view I should focus on school, as I had my entire adult life to be a wage slave,’ she says. She is in the minority though, as nearly all my other pals had jobs from 13 onwards and want their children to do the same.
And not cushy child-minding ones either — my friends spent their youth at the coalface: collecting glasses in pubs, serving in shops, even cleaning hospitals in exchange for a pittance to fritter away on a Saturday night.
Something today’s fake-tanned teens would probably decide was, like, a total infringement of their civil liberties.
So my quest for a babysitter continues. Yes, I could hire one of the grans or mums, yet part of me feels it needs to go to a teen. Babysitting is a rite of passage: sneaking in the boyfriend, snooping through the drawers . . .
Or is even that too much work for today’s idle youth