Take it from Ladybug: A job may be more important than your SAT score.

My first “job” was a volunteer position with the City of Fremont in 1963. I was thirteen years old. My parents insisted that we get out of the house, stop watching TV, and do something for others.

By the age of thirteen, I had practiced (with tremendous success) the art of bossing and manipulating most of the children on our street, Mayfield Drive. In a span of only seven years, I had convinced our little band to play strip poker, model underwear, and eat peanut butter and grass. Of course, we were caught time and time again and justifiably punished, but my shenanigans continued to surface like the Phoenix. We went on to break glass vases, taste cow eyeballs from the local slaughterhouse, and annoy the neighborhood witch, Mrs. Paltrow.

Volunteering as an Adventure Day Camp CIT (Counselor in Training) seemed like a match made in Dirt Heaven. Golden Eagle was in charge of Fremont’s Day Camps, and he not only accepted my application immediately, but also dubbed me officially as Ladybug.

On the first day of my “job,” Sugar Bear and Golden Eagle assigned me to work with Snake. Even in those days, before I became an English major and began my life-long addiction to symbolism and theme, I had a sense that Snake and Ladybug might be a bad match.

After my first day on the job, helping 15 second grade boys make forts out of Popsicle Sticks, I had some second thoughts about my summer commitment.

“ I don’t like Snake, and he doesn’t like me.”
“ This job is boring.”
“ My campers are only interested in shooting each other, being gross, and snack time.”

These complaints were ignored. My parents were busy; Dad, with earning a living; Mom, with raising three other demanding children.

So, I learned to work (with a smile on my face, I might add) for a Snake.

Today’s youth could use more work in jobs outside of their parents’ cushy offices, or they could volunteer for the sake of volunteering.

In my office today, I employ four splendid high school students. Although I pay them, they should really pay me, for they are learning lessons about people, business, life, and money that can only come through hard work. They answer customers’ questions, vacuum and take out trash; they use a Visa/MasterCard terminal, and they call for tuition; they use a database and various computer programs, but most of all, they are privy to the ups and downs of those of us running small business, watching how hard we work to make our business one we can all be proud of.

Their parents are wise. Flute lessons, SAT preparation classes, and soccer practice certainly augment the lovely people they are becoming.

But work experience prepares them for life, don’t you think?

Priyanka, Tian Tian, Christine, and Dipti are laying groundwork for life work.

And they are working with Ladybug and company.

Photo by Cheri Block Sabraw 2008. Dedicated to Betty.

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Parenting and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Take it from Ladybug: A job may be more important than your SAT score.

  1. Christine says:

    I love working for you. Every time I walk out of Mill Creek Academy after a good day of work, I feel refreshed rather than tired. Thank you for giving me the opportunity! :]

  2. tsblock says:

    I have found in my 23 years so far that the more time I have to think, the less fulfilling life “seems” to be. Work has always been a great meditation for me, something that balances me out. Check out the quote below by Thomas Carlyle. I first read it in college and it has really stuck with me the last few years. I think it goes perfectly with your post, Mrs. Sabraw.

    “Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness. He has a work, a life-purpose; he has found it, and will follow it! How, as a free-flowing channel, dug and torn by noble force through the sour mudswamp of one’s existence, like an ever-deepening river there, it runs and flows;—draining off the sour festering water, gradually from the root of the remotest grass-blade; making, instead of pestilential swamp, a green fruitful meadow with its clear-flowing stream. How blessed for the meadow itself, let the stream and its value be great or small! Labour is Life: from the inmost heart of the Worker rises his god-given Force, the sacred celestial Life-essence breathed into him by Almighty God; from his inmost heart awakens him to all nobleness,—to all knowledge, “self-knowledge” and much else, so soon as Work fitly begins. Knowledge? The knowledge that will hold good in working, cleave thou to that; for Nature herself accredits that, says Yea to that. Properly thou hast no other knowledge but what thou hast got by working: the rest is yet all a hypothesis of knowledge; a thing to be argued of in schools, a thing floating in the clouds, in endless logic-vortices, till we try it and fix it.“

    -Thomas Carlyle, “Past and Present”, 1843

  3. Steven Cruise says:

    Nice blog. Congrat on getting to the Blogs of Note today! Keep up the good work.
    My Credit Card Blog

  4. The villager: says:

    There is nothing more important than a storyteller – well done !

  5. Sandi says:

    Cheri, I just came across your blog and read a few of your entries. I am so impressed with your writing and feel blessed to have found your blog. I am also envious (a sin?) as you write the way I have always wanted to be able to do. You capture a person’s interest and give them something to think about. I want to write what I feel strongly about. I just don’t have the words to express myself as you do but I am going to continue writing and will try to follow your example of openness, heartfelt goodness and truths. Thank you for starting this blog – I am following your blog and will continue to read the older posts and wait for your new ones. God bless you.

  6. Moonfairy says:

    Education and work ethic I think are two of the greatest gives you can give children. I think education leads to insight and the gift of insight, that there is a beautiful thing!

  7. Emily says:

    Not to mention the fact that doing a job in high school where you’re vacuuming the floor and taking out the trash (or in my case, emptying grease traps), makes you more motivated to NOT do that for the rest of your life.

  8. Dating personal says:

    My first job was a postman in my native town. I really liked it. Due to my job I could buy sweets at school.

  9. Casey says:

    Having a job at Boston Market in high school gave me a feeling of independence – I had some money in my pocket, and an activity outside of school and the kids I was with every day, and I was good at it. As silly as it may seem, it showed me early on that I liked working directly with customers (or clients as we call them at the marketing agency where I am currently employed). Without client contact, I’m miserable.

    So go get a job, teens!

  10. Yeller says:

    You are absolutely correct that work and volunteer experiences are generally critical to developing an appreciation and understanding of all that life has to offer. However work isn’t always the best thing for a teenager. It still stands that teenagers need to guided, but some won’t be able to cope with the combined stress of school and work. Others still will only be restricted by menial tasks and require the chance to assert their ideas and be given a chance to do remarkable things. Work disciplines the mind but not every mind needs or can handle that discipline.

    Ultimately though it doesn’t matter if the parent doesn’t give the child what he needs as long as the teen can get best possible college, and best in this case does not mean academically challenging it means best suited for the teen. He will need college education to get a decent job but most importantly college is where the teenager will feel free to see what he is interested and most importantly discover who he is as a person. That will give him the confidence to pursue interests and make a good life for himself.

    my blog:http://yellingatheworld.blogspot.com/

  11. La MOM - an American mom in Paris says:

    Bonjour, I went to MSJ with you and your kids. I think my grandfather worked with your husband at court. Just saw the Sabraw name flash on Blogger Updates and I quickly googled it and discovered your blog!
    Nice to see you blogging. You have a great one.
    Check out an old MSJ alum’s blog in Paris:

  12. appropriated.muffin says:

    Hi Mrs. Sabraw!! It is so random to find you on blogger… I just want to say “Hello” and that I have always kept what I learned at Mill Creek in good practice. 🙂 It has stuck with me through college… and I’ll always remember my time there!

  13. Arun kumar says:

    Hi! You have a Great blog!!
    How about exchanging Links?!
    Visit my Blog & if u like it,pls add it to your Blogroll and I too will put a Link for your Site on my Blog!!


  14. sanjit says:

    congrats.. nice blog!

  15. King Sidharth says:

    Hey! you have a great style.. really

    Know when teens are learinig their bits.. could you sapre time to have look at a new worldwide magazine by teens???
    Please let me know if you like it… I cud use your help! 😉

  16. Lapis Lazuli says:

    Greetings from Seattle Cheri,

    You are hillarious, I am still laughing. You are Joie de Vivre. It is people like you that make a difference on this planet of ours.

    To narrate as an observer like you do is indeed an art. I am still laughing.

    The Ladybug and the Snake should become one of De La Fontaine story. We know of the rabbit and the turtoise, the aunt and the grasshoper, now we now of the ladybug and the snake.

    I started working when I was 8 years old for my dad. It was a major wake up call as an 8 years old. When I was 10, I hired all of my friends to work with me. I learned to lead at a very young age.

    Today I am 44 and a lot of my friends online are kids. They want to know what I wanted to know when I was a kid.

    I love ladybugs because they are beneficial insects to my garden.

    Thank you for blogging Cheri, you brought laughter into my heart. Laughing is the cheapest medicine there is to healing.


  17. sesto callende says:

    Great blog! Looking forward to more stories.

  18. Dave says:

    Terrific blog. Great writing and so worth the time!


  19. E says:

    Tell that to college admissions officials and I’ll give it a try.

  20. GIRLS ONGA says:

    Seu blog é lindo!

  21. Shoestringtaitai says:

    Hi, congratulations on becoming the blog of note. Your blog is an enjoyable read. Great writing!

  22. messedgate says:

    My parents never sent me to anything like that…

    The first “help” in this way they gave me was this year, when dad found a job for me…

    But I still think that he just did it to make me leave home…

    Anyway, nice blog and nice text!
    See ya

  23. goldlava says:



  24. Paulus says:

    yes, job more important than SAT score. Bu SAT score is important to find a job.

    For seeing a hot news visit http://paulusdwitunggal.wordpress.com

  25. Matt says:

    Very nice, yes, thanks to Blogger for pointing you out. 🙂

  26. divine_artist says:

    Education may be everything, but work experience is really something! great post!!

  27. Job-Maldives.com says:

    Nice Blog. Well done. Keep it up.

    Good Luck

  28. Barbara says:

    I love your blog!! It is now bookmarked 😉

  29. Anonymous says:

    Very nice blog.

  30. chiya says:

    Congrats on the blogs of note thingie, your blog is really nice.
    I think I’m one of the people who didn’t get any real-world job experience very much but took flute lessons and dance lessons and stuff. My little sister is now coaching skating and writing up bills and stuff, which I kind of wish I’d done something like that.

  31. Earnest Makes Run says:

    I definitely was always put to work, and also encouraged incessantly by my parents to pursue creative as well as academic activities. I always loved work and music, not so much school. I aspire to become a business owner myself and hope I can create a work culture similar to you own. Cool blog.

  32. tlblock says:

    The truth always rings clear! And you tell it so well, Ladybug!

  33. Anonymous says:

    I love what your doing. keep up the good work

  34. Roxy says:

    With out working hard for something we never really know how much we are getting.

  35. Roxy says:

    With out working hard to Achieve something, we would never really know how much it is worth.

  36. Bavin says:

    Nice post. 🙂

  37. Laura says:

    I call it the “school of life” and I certainly subscribe to that theory 100%!

  38. X.A.B.A says:

    love your line of thoughts yet for me television was and still is my saviour i mean i have learned a lot and maybe itd because of the shows i choose to watch and living in a small town with nuthing to do television has prepared me for the world so to speak.

  39. Roxy says:

    That is one great way of understanding the outside world, I guess it too can show us a different view. Maybe from sides that we wouldn’t have seen if we did see it for ouselves and just be viewers instead of being the viewee.

  40. Visadkline says:

    Wonderful blog……very refreshing!

  41. Pingback: Almost a Sleepover « Notes from Around the Block

  42. Pingback: An update on the value of your SAT score | Notes from Around the Block

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