Archive for August, 2012
I don’t make a secret of the fact that I like all you guys, and un-like adults. But I thought I’d break it down a little, give you my reasoning. It’s because adults are full of shit. And you’re not.
Sorry to my legions of adult readers out there, but you can kind of fug off.
Okay, back to you guys. Do you know an adult who’ll admit when they’re wrong? How about one who will listen to what you say? Or–this one’s, like, the Loch Ness Monster–one who can “self-reflect” and “claim responsibility”? Yeah, that thing. The one you’re always getting in trouble for not doing. You don’t, do you. Know an adult like that. It’s okay. I don’t, either.
Next question: do you know any teens who’ll do those things? I really want an answer to that one. I want to know how you guys see each other. But first, I’m gonna tell you what I see.
I see teens being bald-face honest about their faults. I see teens calling each other out on bullshit (yes, r/teenagers, I’m talking to you)…and I see the bullshitter coming back with, “Yeah, I see your point.” I see teens not trying to hide it when they’re psyched, or bored, or madly in love. (Oy, with the high school hallways on Valentine’s Day.)
Today I saw some teens who’re taking it to a new level. A friend of mine is a teacher at a juvenile detention facility. I imagine life might suck a little, for her students. I imagine if I were them, I’d be pissed at the world. But then, I’m an adult.
So my friend set up a blog to post her students’ writing. Here’s some of the mind-bogglingly honest, self-reflective stuff they have to say.
From “Lock Up”: “If I had a choice, I would choose to be at C—- (name of facility withheld) because you are safe here and you can still talk to your parents through mail and talk on the phone and you get food three times a day…It’s like home, except you have to stay in a cell and do what they want you to do. You still get to go to school and get to find other ways to get out of your cell.”
Get to. This kid is locked up, and he’s finding stuff to be grateful for.
In “The Boy Who Survived in the Wilderness,” we’ve got the anti-bragger: the kid who, even in fiction, makes the hero not-quite-perfect: “They went outside and hung an old tarp target on a old bale of hay. Daddy showed him how to knock the arrow onto the string and how to aim for the big dot in the middle of the tarp. The first couple of times he didn’t do so well, he missed the target all together. But finally he got the hang of it and before dark Braxton was hitting bull’s eye almost every shot.”
Almost every shot. Not every shot, but almost.
From “Mistakes”: “I have lived with my grandmother for fifteen years and I treated her like crap. I always blamed her for my mother’s mistakes. Now, since I am getting older, I am starting to realize it wasn’t my grandmother’s fault…Now I am sitting in detention because I started blaming my grandmother again for my mother’s mistakes.”
Now just for contrast, here’s what adults have to say about why they’re locked up. This quote, from a nurse at an adult prison, is a Q and A from the Ask Me Anything forum. Yeah, I’m reddit-happy today. So what.
Q: Do you get told what they’re incarcerated for? Is it in their chart in some way, or do you just learn from guards, or their own disclosure?
A: It’s not in their chart, but we can ask the officers or look them up on the DOC website. It’s an if-you-wanna-know kind of thing. If you ask them, they’ll likely lie to you, in my experience.
You see what I’m saying?
Now here’s my no-bullshit: I appreciate all you teens who tolerate my adult-assed presence in the classroom and online. My life might suck without you.
Oh, and PS: if you want to read that blog yourself, it’s here: http://writersontheinside.com/ If you go, leave ’em a comment. I’m sure they’ll be grateful for that, too.
I’m subbing for the librarian, so you know the kids in this class are the good guys. If you choose “library science” as your elective, you’re a poindexter. Truth.
So I ask these scrub-faced seniors to confirm or deny my suspicion. “Does it seem,” I say, “that most adults are mad at you before you’ve done anything wrong?”
They’re such goodies, they think about it a sec before nodding.
“Yeah,” lacrosse-star-guy says. “Soon as you walk into CVS they’re tailing you, like you’re going to pocket a travel toothpaste.”
A girl with Heidi braids chimes in. “All but, like, one of my teachers hates me.” She has a cello case next to her. How do you hate the kid who plays cello?
I’m on a mission to prove the teen-haters wrong. This blog is how I’m going to do it. Here’s exhibit A.
I am stupid. I walk my dogs without leashes. One of my dogs is a master hunter. He was the homeless guy; he’s had to hunt for food. So we’re walking on this path that follows a stream. Next to the stream is a set of woods. Next to the woods is a major road.
A deer screeches across our path and into the woods. My dogs—my precious, everything dogs—screech after it. They’re gone. All that’s left is the woosh of nearby traffic.
Understand me, I am flipping the eff out. My babies will get killed by cars, and I’m helpless. If I go into the woods and head left, what if they went right? Or vice versa? If I’m screaming their names and moving, how will they find me, the moving target? And if military logic says a lost soldier stays in his last known location, shouldn’t I stand still and scream their names? Okay, flipping. The eff. Out. And screaming.
A human figure comes limping toward me from a quarter mile away. Through the woods. In a leg cast.
“I was out feeding the cows and heard you. You okay?” this Superman of a teen says.
“My dogs!” I gack out.
“Oh, they won’t get to the road,” says Super. “That road’s a way off.”
Then he limps his broken ass off through the prickers. The poison ivy. The ticks. In a leg cast. Two minutes later I hear, “They’re coming!” And there’s my babies, barreling at me with slathery grins.
I force this kid to tell me where he lives, practically at gunpoint. I will be giving him that 20 in my wallet.
Pull up to his house, knock on the rattly screen door, and a big guy with a beer answers. I compliment him on the job he’s done raising his son; he goes, “My son? Bah.”
So broken-legged kid rescues two dogs, puts hysteria-lady on ice, and tries to wave off a free $20. In exchange, from the adults, he gets “Bah” and a gun to the head. And it’s teens that are sucky? To that, I say this: bah.