Since Miriam now has a paper route I have discovered something that I possibly already knew, that there is a very big difference between how a 12 year old boy does his paper route and a 16 year old girl does her paper route.
Both of their bundles of papers land on our front porch at about 1:30 pm everyday except Saturdays when they arrive about 8:00am. Miriam walks in the door from the bus at 2:30 pm carrying her bundle with her. She puts a bagel in the toaster and bags her papers while she is waiting for the bagel to pop up. She gets the papers bagged just in time to smear way too much cream cheese on her bagel and smoosh the sides of the bagel together. Then she scoops all her papers up in her arms, sometimes they fall on the ground but she just picks them back up without saying a word and with her bagel in her mouth heads for the car. She squeezes through the space between the swimming pools hanging on the garage wall and the car she carefully opens the passenger side door and throws her papers on the floor of the front seat. She then climbs in and we are ready to go. She has not really said much up to this point just perhaps a few pleasantries about her day.
She really wants to be riding her bike on the route but most of the side roads are covered with snow and a layer of ice and besides the bikes need a dad to fix them. She did walk her route one day last week and strangely was very positive and happy about the experience. Some houses want their paper in the tube by the mailbox, some houses want the paper in their breezeway, some want it between their screen door and front door and some even want you to come in their house and set it somewhere particular. Miriam never says much of a word about any of it. She just does what needs to be done. If it goes in the tube she does it very quickly and always makes it in the tube from whatever distance I manage to position the car. If the paper goes on the porch she sets it up very carefully next to the door. She walks to each door and walks back. We are very efficient and quick.
Joe gets home at 3:00. He never brings his papers in. I have to remind him. Then he complains that he is starving and is going to die if he does not eat before we do the route. I come back through the kitchen and see that he set everything up for bagging the papers but there is no sign of Joe. I call for him and he comes back and starts bagging the papers. I come back through the kitchen about 5 minutes later and half the papers are bagged and Joe is no where to be seen. I find him again and tell him I am heading to the car and he better hurry. He panics and finally pulls himself together.
Once we get in the car he talks a mile a minute about his day. About unfair things at school, about all the kids that got in trouble that day. Then he starts in on his daily shopping requests. Can we stop at Blockbuster? Can we stop at the hobby store for model guys to paint? Can we go to Gamestop? Can we go to the library? Let me tell you a boy with money is a double edged sword. All of this conversation carries on through out the whole route. Often he will carry on a conversation with me while he is walking up to the house and I am still in the car. When we stop at any tubes Joe HAS to sit on the edge of the window and hang half of his body out of the window as he slides the paper in. And then he HAS to knock any snow or ice off of the top of the mailbox before we leave. When he gets out of the car to run to a house he always runs, slides, jumps off of piles of snow, kicks imaginary foes and hollers randomly "butt", "poop,"at the top of his lungs in a really strange voice. He throws the paper to the porch and if it slides off he loses his temper. If he sees a dog he barks at it and whistles at it. This particular behavior has already earned him two dog bites. Which I ignored because I watched the whole thing and he definitely deserved the bites :) He will stand in front of the car daring me to run him over. He will bang the back of the car trying to scare me. At one spot on the route there is an apple tree and when apples are in season he loves to place apples under the tires of my car a delightfully holler when I smash them with the tires. He deliberately steps in puddles and slides on ice. All the little boys in the neighborhood stare at him longingly and with admiration. One mom told me her little boy has always wanted to be a paper boy.
The difference is definitely stark between Joe and Miriam's ways. I could do with a little less of Joe's losing his temper at mailboxes that will not close and inanimate objects that cause him endless grief. But at least they provide us with many teaching moments :) He must be doing something right because he received over a $100.00 extra dollars in tips, McDonald's gift cards, and movie passes from the people on his route for Christmas. I am sure Miriam will soon also achieve this status on her route. But nevertheless it is very fascinating to watch and it makes me smile :)