The monetary compensation for their efforts is comparable to my bingo hall coffee cart adventures, if one accounts for inflation. Only, while I would try and sneak a chocolate bar here and there, they actually get fed breakfast and an all-you-can-eat pizza lunch as part of their "work". These are the kind of perks of the job I did not experience until a few years later, when my Sunday mornings were spent opening the breakfast shift at my local McDonald's!
It's intriguing how much money drives their desire to participate; when I was 12, I was still deep into my sticker collection. My minuscule paycheques primarily supported my junk food addiction and visits to the just-emerging dollar stores in the neighbourhood to buy new stickers or sticker albums. Theirs will be dedicated towards more lofty goals: Simon is saving for his own computer, and Alex wants a "Toronto Marijuana Leafs" jersey. Whereas I wanted a part time job less for the money and more for the social aspect of things (all my "cool" friends were getting jobs), it was the idea of a big chunk of coin at the end of the study that prompted Alex and Simon's interest in giving up large portions of their "free time"!
Unlike me at their age, they also have 2-hour commute to and from school each day, and access to an iPad, video games and the internet. It will be interesting to see how these additional demands on their time influence the choices they make when it comes to part time jobs and social commitments in the years ahead.
Alex and Simon are at the cusp of adolescence; they turn 13 in about a month. As I have since they were born, I look forward to the next stage of firsts, and will inevitably compare them to my own increasingly-distant experiences in kind.