Using child labor


THIS IS CARLOS, and he’s 11 years old. He’s painting our house.

We hired him because he charges almost nothing because he has little food, no home and no parents. We found him crying on the street last week.

Aha! I thought. I can use this to my advantage.

Okay, I’m making all that up. It’s his father, José, who’s painting parts of the Hacienda, but Carlos had no school today, so he came along with his dad who promptly put him to work scraping old, flaking paint on our downstairs terraza.

He did a good job of it, and then he swept up the mess, and his dad showed him how to apply some liquid that will hinder humidity problems in the future. Then the new paint will be added. José did not just bring Carlos. He also brought his daughter who is 6 years old. She mostly sits in the car and plays with a cell phone.

They are both very nice and well-behaved kids. Nice to have them around.

19 thoughts on “Using child labor

  1. In Canada and the U.S. the progressives would be screaming about taking away the children’s youth and illegal child labour. Mexico has a sensible approach to this. Kids stay busy and stay out of trouble, learn the value of money and learn a new skill. You, sir, are fortunate to live in such a “progressive?” country,

    Felíz Navidad, señor.


  2. In El Otro Lado, you’d be tarred and feathered before nightfall for penning that second paragraph, even in jest. And I would be kicked to the curb for rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off over what you’d written. Carlos looks like a fine young man who’s proud of his work.


    1. Ms. Shoes: Quite so. I almost wish I lived up where I will never live again so I could write those first two paragraphs and see what happens.

      Both of the painter’s kids are well-behaved and great to be around. Alas, this is more than I can say for a few of my own young Mexican relatives. Don’t tell them I said that.


  3. They have a good dad, too. I say that because there aren’t many self-employed men who would take their kids to their work. Carlos would probably have preferred helping his dad as opposed to sitting in the car with his sister and fighting over the cell phone. His sister might have liked to do some work as opposed to sitting in the car but it most likely wasn’t offered. All speculation on my part, however.


    1. Carole: I imagine you are right on all counts. The girl did come into the downstairs terraza for a while to play, but she didn’t do any work. She is only 6, after all.


      1. 6? She should have been climbing up your chimney to soot it out for the arrival of the Dutch Sinterklaas and his Moorish helper Black Pete. I know you are not Dutch, but Sinterklaas does live in Spain most of the year, like a drunken English retiree, and there is no reason why he should not visit Mexico to witness the blessings of Spanish imperialism. OK. I guess that is enough jibes for one morning.

        The sight of Mexican children assisting their parents at work is not rare in these parts. Whenever workmen come to the house, they often have a child in tow who takes part in the work. Dora usually brings Leo, her 10-year old son, who sweeps and picks up.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m more worried about the 6-year-old playing with a cellphone than Carlos. /sarc That’s great that the kid gets to be with his dad and help out. That used to be more of a model for families where you apprentice under your dad. Not so much now.


    1. Jonas: Interesting question. We have laws for all manner of stuff. And we ignore those laws on a regular basis. It’s part of the nebulous nature of Mexican life. You sent me to the internet, however.

      It’s illegal to hire child workers who are under age 14. A child between 14 and 16 can work but only for six hours per day max. There are lots of other regulations dealing with child labor. Here’s a link in English.

      Whether any of that means a father cannot tell his underage son to scrape paint off a wall is unknown to me.

      Thanks for the feedback.


    1. Jonas: Laws are enforced here for the most part when it’s convenient for someone to do so. Many are just ignored.

      By the way, comments here are moderated only the first time. This one should have sailed through, but there was a typo in the email address the first time, but not this time. FYI. WordPress is the culprit, not me. Feel free to visit again.


  5. Yes indeed, señor, your life is one escapade after the last.

    Just don’t know how you keep up such a heavy schedule. You are to be much admired for your stamina.

    Keep those posts coming. Those of us in the hinterlands need the information and entertainment.

    Feliz Navidad and all that.


    1. Ricardo: One escapade I just began a few minutes ago as my wife departed is that I will be here alone till Monday. She’s run off to Guanajuato with a pack of her relatives. I could have gone too, but nah.

      Felíz Navidad to you too! And your lovely esposa.


  6. I may be your lone reader living in rural USA. Child labor laws? Children help feed chickens, hay cattle, fix fence, drive tractors, etc. all around me. Also, many savvy universities in the know are wooing them, realizing these young adults are honest, possess good work ethics, are tenacious, and have an appreciation of higher learning. You know, all those things that lead to independent and productive adults.


    1. Bev: So your neck of the woods is kinda like everywhere 70 years ago. Sounds great.

      Even though I spent lots of time, mostly summers, on my grandparents’ farm in southwest Georgia when I was a child, I never fed chickens or cattle, and I never fixed a fence or drove a tractor. My grandfather had two Ford tractors, and I wanted to drive one, but he wouldn’t let me. I guess I was too young. When I was older, my grandfather was dead, and my grandmother had no tractors. Most of the land was rented to Uncle Sam to plant pine trees. Even so, I hope I turned into an independent and productive adult. Who knows?

      As for your being my lone reader living in rural USA, maybe, maybe not. Here, as with all blogs, 90 percent of readers never leave a comment. Lord knows where they live.


  7. Carlos is very good in his work, but he should not experience that thing for he is too young. You must help him to study, for him to be successful.


    1. Appleetes: I’m afraid that’s up to his parents, not me. Kids helping their families in this manner is very common in Mexico. Anyway, it’s quite likely he’s also in school. Schedules here are different than school schedules above the border.


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