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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We’ll Let This One Slide Because You’re Clearly Still Wet Behind the Ears

We’ve gotten away, I think, from the many, many amusements that are provided to us, free of charge, amusements too often not seen as the social faux pas and awkward stages that they are.

I refer, of course, to teenagers.

Fuzzy, awkward, insecure, I’m afraid that too many people have stopped seeing what these mostly-grown children truly are and see only what they fear.

Baggy-pantsed ingrates! Hormonally-raging pups! Texting, sexting, foul-mouthed, line-jumping, no-manners-having cretins!

Or maybe that’s just on my bus?

Or perhaps we’ve stopped seeing so many of them for what they because of what we adults secretly envy.

I mean, sure. I’d like my teenage body back. Heck, I’d like YOUR teenage body back, but you had your time, didn’t you? And so did I. I’m not suggesting that we lie down in the middle of the road and pray that The End is quick. All I’m saying is that maybe you shouldn’t wear that tube top.

Or maybe you should. Maybe I would write about it.

Why have we given teenagers so much power? Frankly, I blame Marketing – and the fact that the little buggers have so much disposable income. Would it be wrong to mandate savings accounts? Yes, I suppose it would.

We’ve focused so heavily on petting the tops of their shiny pubescent heads whilst crooning, Hey! how ‘bout a new cell phone? How ‘bout you personalize everything you own? How ‘bout you travel blindly, assured that you are supremely special and entitled to whatever you like?

Some of them seem drunk with this power, sure of their omnipotence.

Hey, I would be too, if I were being raised in a culture that worships youth.

There was a group of teenagers at the back of the bus the other day. Slumped in their seats, admirably walking the line between expressions intended to display that they’d seen it all and faces eagerly exuberant, they were, as James Brown would say, talking loud and saying nothing.

Easily heard above my iPod, I gave in and shut it off.

“You know what I hate the most?” says the one clearly winning the exposed-underwear category of this particular pageant.

“Hmmm?”

“White people, man. I just hates white people.”

The bulk of commuters around me, all white, go stiff and silent as the kids nod in agreement with each other as they go over the list of things they hate, these 15, 16 year-old citizens of the world. Me, too! Me, too! I hates Cheerios! I hates unsalted fries! I hates white people!

I turn around, smile, with my best Aunt Pearl face, into the eyes of the one who seemed to have the most to say.

“Oh, n-not you, ma’am,” apologizes Droopy-Drawers. He is mortified, and it shows in his eyes. “I didn’t mean you.”

“Oh, I know you didn’t mean me,” I said, leaning toward him, “but you never know who’s listening when you talk that loud, do you?”

And then I went back to my iPod.

I got off the bus a couple stops later, hoping they’d think about that: about what was said, about the future that they wanted to be a part of.

Pups.

50 comments:

George said...

You can hope all that you want, but unfortunately he probably never gave it a thought at all.

Simply Suthern said...

Kids have learned that in their little group with the gang mentailty that they can get by saying or doing anything without reprisal.

Way to go Aunt Pearl.

Pearl said...

George, that is probably true. It was DECADES before I reflected on some of the idiocies of youth.

Simply, I agree 100%.

Jeannie said...

Speaking from personal experience, the kids who talk the loudest and boldest feel they have the most to prove. Inside they are quivering bowls of jelly. They are daring those in authority to prove what they say is wrong. And you did. At least prove that there are exceptions to his hating white people. If enough white people didn't hate him back, he might even change his mind.

Bossy Betty said...

OK, there are some rotten apples out there, but there are some good ones too! I have a lot of faith in the future generation. I also have a lot of Pepsi and candy in my system right now, but I'm happy!

Pearl said...

Jeannie, presentation is everything. He seemed like a nice enough kid once he stopped posin'!

Bossy, I am stubbornly optimistic as well. :-)

haphazardlife said...

Aw, it's the smile that disarmed him, poor child.

Maybe we should all go around smiling at them. I wonder what would happen.

- Jazz

Pearl said...

Jazz, I think I'll just start smiling at people just to freak 'em out. :-)

Shieldmaiden96 said...

I found it interesting when I started running on a rescue crew how quickly a 17 year old that is usually all mouth and swagger quickly morphs back into his mommy's little boy...usually when I've got him on a backboard and in a c-collar because he rolled his car in a cornfield. Unfortunately I get a lot of teachable moments that way.

David L Macaulay said...

Cheerios are the most sinister aspect here, Pearl. Yup with you - in my day teenagers were down th' mine from dawn to dusk or sweeping chimneys for a couple of shillings a week. It were character building.

Pearl said...

Sheildmaiden, I'm thinking you have lots of great/horrific stories there.

David, is it too late to get them down in the hole? Little buggers.

Pearl said...

p.s. Cheerios ARE vile...

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Damn, you are GOOD.

As a former high school teacher, I confess to deriving much pleasure when I call teenagers out on being buttheads.

Oilfield Trash said...

Oh wow. Some people just are flipping idiots.

Vinny C said...

It's sad people get caught up in the hype media has created about youth worship. My wife & I were out the other day. We knew the woman walking ahead of us wasn't a teenager but she was dressed like one: tights, tube top and ankle-wrap sandals. As we were passing her... She turned around. She was in our sixties. We were grossed out.

Symdaddy said...

Pearl, you seem to think that teenagers can think further that where their next designer rags are coming from.

I have never yet met a teenager that gives a damn about what us 'old folks' think. I doubt very much time would be spared to contemplate our 'weisheiten'.

jenny_o said...

I admire your courage.

We never know what's in someone else's mind, and whether what we say might have just provided them with a lightbulb moment.

jenny_o said...

*said*

not *say*

Eva Gallant said...

Kudos to you, Pearl. A smile can sometimes do wonders.

Leenie said...

(Giving you an Aunt Leenie smile) I happen to LIKE Cheerios. Are you saying what I eat is vile?? Hehe. I'm giving the pups credit for backing down and calling you, ma'm. Some day they'll grow into those feet and most of them even morph into people who pay taxes and raise adolescents. What goes around comes around.

Fun read. Almost makes me wish I rode a city bus just for the entertainment.

Pat Tillett said...

Put them in a coma when they turn 12 and revive them when they reach 25. Not my kids of course! Revive them at 30....

Pearl said...

Green Girl, I think that too many of us think that because they can be so BIG that they're mature...

OT, you're talking about them, not me, right? :-)

Sym, If I don't, I too easily fall into despair. Believe me, there are days I think we're all DOOMED...

jenny, I agree. I just hope to be, somewhere, some day, part of someone's "ah-ha!" moment...

Eva, it's taken me most of my life to figure that out!

Nicely done, Leenie! :-) GAH! It was the only ceral my mother bought -- that and Grape Nuts. Now GRape Nuts I like. But I can live the rest of my life without another Cheerio!

Pat, :-) Wake 'em up in time to do yardwork...

Linda Myers said...

Having been through eight teenagers in my house, now all grown, I can say most of the time their attitudes get better eventually. Some of them even think I make sense now.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

Sheildmaiden is right. I have them in court, and the tears flow like water from a faucet. Just smiling and treating kids like people goes a long way.

Sweet Cheeks said...

Long ago it pained me to be addressed as ma'am by a youngin...now, I love it.
=]

Roses said...

I'm actually really fond of teenagers. It's horrible going through adolesence: spotty, over-sexed, hormonal and no social skills.

Boy's friends really do look a mess: jeans holding on to their bums by willpower alone, generally unwashed, pierced, tattoos, really bad hair. But they are some of the nicest human beings I know. They are helpful, thoughtful and very willing.

Sometimes, they just need to be reminded that they are part of the human race and good for you for being Aunty Pearl.

Pearl said...

Linda, hence the need to cryogenically freeze them during the sassy years, yes? :-)

alwaysinthebackrow, everybody wants to blong to something, everyone one needs to serve. By holding our place in society properly, we help them hold theirs. (My but I'm feeling warm and cuddly today!)

Sweet Cheeks, :-) You got that right sister!

Jhon Baker said...

What we really need is more Pearls in the world - and more of me - people unafraid to say something when it needs to be said. Good job on you!

Pearl said...

Roses, I like them as well, especially since I can remember being one. It's hard work being young.

Pearl said...

Oh, Jhon that is very nice, but there are plenty of days where I say nothing. I think if we all agreed to say something kind/believe in positive intent/acknowledge human error where strangers are concerned, even if just twice a year, we'd be a little nicer to each other. I mean, no one's saying be a sucker or a doormat, but most of our understandings seem to stem from impatience...

Douglas said...

Not to worry, Pearl, that "disposable income" that so many marketers think is unlimited? It isn't. Eventually, the mommies and daddies who have been handing it out in lieu of parental guidance will be broke and teh little cherubs will have to find a job. Good luck on that score, kiddies!

I happen to like Cheerios, by the way, the Honey-Nut kind... but I buy the store-brand clone because I am an old fart on a fixed income.

The Elephant's Child said...

Since you dropped in on me (and you are very welcome) I thought I would return the favour. And loved your post - thank you

Pearl said...

Douglas, I was actually thinking of how many teenagers work after school. Heaven knows we are loaded down with them! The gas stations, fastfood restaurants, retail stores are lumpy with teenagers. That's why they have money, I'm thinking. I don't know. I'm sure some of them are getting allowances, but not among the people I know.

Pearl said...

Elephant's Child, thank you! And I'm glad you liked it.

Flea said...

Pearl, I think I love you. :)

Pearl said...

Aww, Flea-Flea. :-) And I loved your "CAKE" comment yesterday. Nice one!

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

Would you believe me if I told you that I deal with this sort of mouthiness in Kindergarten?

Oh yes.

Would you believe me if I told you that most of their parents believe that everything their child says should be recorded and then embroidered on a pillow?

As George Carlin lamented..it's our fault, we created or enabled in some way this "cult of the child"

Keep 'em in line on the bus, Pearl...that's one of your superpowers :)

Jocelyn said...

You had THE PERFECT LINE.

Gotta say, I'm still struggling with perspective enough that I'm trying to figure out if it's a "kids these days" thing...or if it's always been like that, but only now am I old enough to notice.

Pearl said...

Oh, Rene, I'm sorry to say that I believe it. We're not doing ourselves -- or our children -- any favors with that attitude!

Joce, I have the same problem and have to admit I lean a bit to the side that says it's "these days". Everyone's just so gosh darn special these days; and now that we revere youth and beauty more than we do age, good works, or experience, we are collecting the dividends. Keep raising those good kids of yours!! We can fight this!

Susan in the Boonies said...

I love to do that! I love to just turn, and look 'em in the eye, and give 'em that smile!!! It's when they squirm a little that it's the most fun!!!
I think this will be the best part about being Aunt Sooze or Aunt Pearl. (Cool Aunt Pearl with the ipod in her ears who listens to BOOTSY!!!)

Gigi said...

So Droopy-Drawer's actually used the word "Ma'am?" That tells me he's got a mother, or someone, in his life who has taught him respect. If his mother (or whomever) caught him acting like that while hanging out with his friends she'd definitely give him the "what for." Damn kids. I have to admit there are days when I don't like any of them.

But, in my heart of hearts, I'd like to think that most of them are good at the core and they'll outgrow it. At least, I sure hope so.

Belle said...

Smiling at that boy was the best thing to do. What a good reaction, I do think you made him realize he was wrong to say that.
When I was in highschool, there was a boy who used to yell and make fun of me. He was a stranger, I have no idea why he did that. Finally, I looked at him and smiled. He not only stopped bugging me, he went out of his way to be nice. Somehow a smile disarmed him.

John McElveen said...

Great poser Pearl... I'm gonna think on this one awhile. Not having had any children--of course I'm an expert on Teenagers!

I avoid them at all cost--because they still have the death penalty in SC!

Great stuff!

J

Mamma has spoken said...

I didn't enjoy my teenage years so I can't relate to that part, sorry. But here is a so true story. I work with kids, that you know, but I was oh so afraid of the teenagers in high school. If I had to go to the high school, I would make sure to be in the halls when they weren't.
Then I had my kids. They became teenagers. I learned that my fears of them was unfounded to a point.
Now when I have to go to the high schools, I just push those shits out of my way because I am as bad ass as they are.
Yes that's what I learned from my sons.

injaynesworld said...

I would not want to be a kid growing up in today's world for anything. It's too damn scary out there. Nope. I'm damn happy I grew up in the "olden days."

I'm glad you confronted them, Pearl. Most grown ups probably never do.

That Janie Girl said...

Ditto injaynesworld. Good on you, Pearl!

IndigoWrath said...

Acting with impunity, but still basically afraid if challenged, pretty much sums them up. I hates teenagers, I do! Unless they're listening.

hoodyhoo said...

Dear Sweet Mama also hates white people, which is unfortunate because we are them. But this doesn't keep her from walking into the Walmart and proclaiming that "there are too many white people in here." What did she expect?

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Bless the poor misguided kittens. It is going to be joyful on judgment day (i.e., the day they end up on their rears without their mamas to look after them and have to fend for themselves) because then they'll figure out how much that iPhone plan costs and their laptop and iPad and iPod and all that fast food they consume. It's so different when you have to pay for it yourself.

Shawn said...

Wow looks like everything has been already said! Except cheerios with milk smell like pee.

Seacrest out....

Shawn