It was near the end of last summer when my son Mahmood, then eleven years old, got excited about a simple flyer inserted into our local paper. It was an announcement that a new newspaper carrier was needed for our street. I, on the other hand, had reservations about the idea. In my mind, taking on a newspaper route was a lot of work and involved a great deal of logistics. I let him sleep on it and sure enough, his interest was still alive the next day. So I told him to go ahead and call the number, and today, I look back and say, alhamdulillah he did. It may not pay well, but the job of a newspaper carrier provides a wonderful opportunity for learning and growth that extends well beyond the front porch.
From the moment he signed his “first contract” (as he put it) I could see not only joy but also a sense of responsibility in his eyes. He was taking on his first job and he was looking forward to the challenge. At first he asked for my help but soon he gained confidence and he was able to carry out the tasks of assembly and delivery independently. Several months later, this is what he has to say:
My experience assembling and delivering newspapers has had a very positive impact in my life. It has taught me the importance of managing my time and has given me the valuable lesson of how to budget my spending, and manage my income. Every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I come home from school and bring in the piles of newspapers, ads, and real estate sections. I pray Asr and then get to work inserting the ads and other packages into each newspaper, and then folding it, and securing it with a rubber band. Just doing this act for 36 newspapers and then delivering them has reaped great benefit in my life. Now that I have a monthly income, I have been able to set goals and save up for various things. Having these goals in place has given my pocket/Eid money a purpose, and rather than spending it on candy and sweets, I save it. I have learned more than just managing my money though. I have also learned how to manage my time. The entire process of assembling and then delivering takes around 1–1.5 hours, so I have to manage my schoolwork with less time available. At first, I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle it, but with time I have learned, and it hardly feels like I’ve lost any time. Overall, delivering newspapers has had a very positive effect on me, and has taught me some very important lessons. I believe it is a very beneficial opportunity for people my age.
A couple of months ago he was sick so I stepped in to perform his duties and that day was certainly eye-opening. I discovered how hard he works! This kind of job is tough, pushing a cart full of newspapers in the dead of winter. It was extremely cold and the sidewalks icy but despite the hardship I experienced, it was refreshing and peaceful. The crisp air, quiet tone of the street, and exercise were all good for me and I realized they were good for him too. Children these days, as we all know, are not getting enough exercise and are losing touch with nature (so much that there is discussion of kids suffering from nature-deficit disorder). He is also getting the opportunity three times a week to exercise while appreciating the natural surroundings of our neighbourhood, and exposing himself to the rain, wind and snow. I believe he is stronger, mashaAllah, as a result.
When we went out of town, it was his responsibility to find a substitute. He arranged with our next-door neighbours to fill in for him and I smiled to myself as he communicated the job expectations to them. When it was time to pay them, he left the house with a grin and said, “I feel like I am a boss about to pay his employees.” SubhanAllah, he really is growing up fast.
Hebba is a Canadian mother of two boys and lives in Oakville, Ontario. She is a passionate Montessorian and is currently working at an Islamic elementary school.