You’ve seen it on TV, or maybe even done it yourself. You see a pack of teens coming your way in the mall, or sitting on the bumper of someone’s car, and you instinctively think, “they are up to no good.” Or worse — you turn the other way and run! People seem to be afraid of teenagers.
I just don’t get it. Maybe they have heard some statistics about violent teens, or maybe they remember how they behaved when they were that age. I don’t know, but I’ve always enjoyed hanging out with these kids. You can have a real conversation with them, they typically don’t smell bad, and can keep their emotions in check for the most part.
I enjoyed my time with the little people, but they were a little too clingy for me, and sometimes called me “mommy.” They need help with bathroom activities as well. That’s outside of my training.
But teenagers I typically understand, and have really enjoyed teaching them. My experience this week with the Putnam City Student Advisory Committee was no exception. High school students from all three of our schools really impressed me. They are caring, honest and real.
I asked them to share with me something of which they were proud and something they hated. Mind you, I am a total stranger to these people. Instead of giving me one word superficial answers, I got honest responses and complexity, even genuine introspection.
When we worked on determining the “solvable problem,” my eyes were opened to their caring hearts. Not only did they mention problems within their own schools and families (school funding cropped up repeatedly), they considered problems outside of Oklahoma, like the water problems in Flint, Michigan, or the new Libyan slave trade. I didn’t even know that was happening in Libya, but these thoughtful teenagers opened my eyes.
So, if you hear people complaining about the youth today, like they complained about the youth yesterday, and the youth in your day, etc., offer some facts to them. These kids care, they are passionate, and I am betting on them to make Oklahoma better.