Open For Business: Teens Are Leading the Way

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When I was little, the big kids ruled the block. Babysitting. Paper routes. Girl Guide cookies.

My cousin and I even used to go door to door, selling mixed tapes—that had yet to be mixed.

Then I grew up, and joined the generation of parents that would helicopter around our kids. Knock on random doors? Speak to strangers? Not in my house!

And technology reared its ugly head, turning our attention inwards. To basement battles on Fortnite and online shopping.

Really, when was the last time a neighbourhood kid knocked on your door, offering their services?

Interestingly, while many of us parents are out of work—either through temporary layoffs during shutdown, or unable to open our bricks-and-mortar doors until restrictions are lifted—business is taking off for the young ’uns.

I have a Grade 7 tutoring my twins. She does so via Zoom calls three times a week and even knows how to use her whiteboard.

She’s so savvy she can tell when my twins are switching tabs on their browser to play Cool Math Games by the reflection on their glasses. There’s no fooling a middle grader.

Hockey practice is cancelled until further notice, so we’ve hired a Grade 9 AAA superstar to work out my eldest twice a week. The price is right and it keeps my son off the technology for a couple of hours each day he goes.

The high schooler is even tougher on my son than his hockey coach is, giving him extra burpees if he and his buddy complain. He doesn’t have a bench full of backseat-coaching parents watching his every move.  

Summer camps are cancelled but there’s word on the street that some savvy kids in the neighbourhood are teaming up to babysit small groups of kids, promising to do camp-style activities with them.

You can bet I’ll be looking them up once the first chorus of “I’m bored” hits.

I haven’t heard of so many child-run businesses since my Babysitters Club book series days.

Considering that up until the pandemic, one of my greatest worries was what our kids were going to do for a living when they grow up, I’m taking this entrepreneurial tack as good news.

According to some reports, up to 800 million global workers will lose their jobs to robotic automation by 2030. It’s said that one-third of the workforce may need to retrain for other jobs.

While I’d love for my kids to be in class and community programming, I can think of no better preparation for the real world than growing an instinct for supply and demand, and nurturing the creativity that it takes to go with the flow.

Maybe this is exactly the kind of education our kids need today.

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Author: Cat Margulis

Cat Margulis is a Toronto writer and super (tired) mom of four. She's working on her first novel, launching her own podcast (at passionprojectpod.com), and generally trying to do and have it all. You can see how she does it @catmargulis and @passionprojectpod on Instagram.

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