Three Teenage Things: Unsocialized

7:30 AM

Three Teenage Things. I know what you're thinking. Just three? Sure, I could touch upon a whole host of teenage things we need to clean up or scrap altogether...but there's three that bug me the most so far this year.

What does "teenage" mean? The immature, self-centered, peer-pressured attitude developed mainly in persons in middle school to high school, though I've seen it in kindergartners and adults too. Before you cry "Hypocrite!" let's make it quite clear that I have no wish to be a teenager. I'm a young lady. Nobody likes teenagers - except themselves, which shows the incredible short-sightedness and arrogance typical to them, I must say.

Ready to cringe? These are three teenager things we'll touch on:

- forming cliques and prejudices against people of other ages

- letting our siblings annoy us

- disrespecting our parents

- and all under the guise of normality and coolness


"What grade are you in?"

The minute the person asks it I suddenly turn blank, utter "um" a few hundred times and give last year's grade.

"Wait. I mean, tenth - no - eleventh?"

Don't even try to ask me what my siblings' grades are.

I wish people would just ask my age. It takes me fewer ums to figure that out. After all, in homeschooling, grades don't matter. They don't matter at all. You stay with the same classroom, same teacher and same school with absolutely no problem. We don't ever get lost.

I mention that only because it vaguely serves as an introduction to this post's idea: in today's world, we're too segregated. If one grows up in traditional school, all close friends and acquaintances are the same grade, the same age - give or take a few years. That's ripe for only one thing: poor socialization.

I've noticed over the years that wherever segregated age groups are, there are snobs. I mean that as people who think their age and grade and interests are the best. Thus we have the jocks, the goths, the nerds and the misfits - all in their proper grades, of course. In his brief stint in public high school orchestra, my brother lamented only three things: temper tantrums during seating arrangements, chatty girls and the cliques. The seniors hated the juniors and the juniors returned the favor; both couldn't stand the sophomores; and everybody ignored the freshmen. Those were the four overarching cliques, he explained to Puzzled Me, but there were, of course, the individual cliques inside the big cliques: the cheerleaders, the smart people, the sports nuts.

I didn't believe him. At all.

Thing is, it's a school thing (or else I know only misfits), for everywhere else apart from school, all ages mingle. So I never experienced it. But human nature is of special interest to me and I kept a sharp lookout for the proper environment for such persons.

The next specimens in my investigation were the kindergarten students. The policy? We're all friends. The reality? The popular girls got to decide who was in and who was out. There were a few social misfits that I wanted to reach so badly, who drifted from friend to friend, group to group, without acceptance.

I noticed too that when trying to befriend younger girls who grew up in this system, I was met with blank stares and indifference. The closer in age we were, the bigger the gap. Six-year-olds loved me...not so much the sixth graders.

Are there exceptions? Yes. I know many of them. And in my homeschool group and church, we truly live out the mantra, "We're all friends." Everybody of all ages bands together as one big family. That's the nature of homeschooling...that's the nature of acceptance and friendliness.

We need to embrace that philosophy. First we need to erase that sort of "clique-y" thinking from our minds altogether - pushing others to rethink their stereotypes and prejudices. Kudos to the girl who says something clever next time her friend bashes the grade beneath. There are no barriers in love. Discriminating based on likes and dislikes - that's understandable to a degree. Discriminating because of age? That's immature. (And to point fingers at the "stupid, immature" grade lower is to point a bunch more fingers back at ya.)

Besides renewing our minds and opening our hearts, we need to actually act upon our new beliefs. The new girl at church, at school, at the homeschool function - she needs a friend whether she's eighth grade and you're a junior or vice versa. Be that friend.

Speaking of prejudices, teenagers are well-known for snubbing older and little-little folks. With the exceptions of teachers, youth group leaders and the sort, we isolate ourselves from the wisdom and, yes, friendship of the older generations. We shrink back from loving the babies and the toddlers and the lower elementary grades. Ironically, I have a harder time enjoying people of my own age than younger kids and older ladies and gentlemen. I count many friends in those age brackets...and they're a sight better company than many teenagers I know.

Teens? We dug our own grave when we became self-absorbed, shallow and distanced from older and younger generations. That others are "annoying" or "weird" or "too old-fashioned" is because of our own immaturity, our own ridiculous oddities and our own trendiness that shoves out anything practical and responsible. It's not their fault. It's ours.

We need to shape up.

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7 impressions

  1. That picture is funny in a way... :o)

    Poor Chase...I can only imagine...

    Well, I know a bunch of people my age who shun me - and frankly, I don't exactly care because I don't really want to be with them anyways. ;)

  2. Agreed! I often have a lot of trouble relating to people my age for the very reasons you mentioned, so most of my best friends are either younger or older than myself.

    I know this has been said by many before me, but a pet peeve of mine with teens (spoken like I'm not in that age group or something lol) is...the cell phone. *sheesh* Trying to compete with that (or at least the friends they're texting) is often just not worth my time. :P

  3. Great post Bailey darlin'!
    You are so right, we are such a segregated society, it's horrible! Thankfully, my parents have taught me that this is false, evolutionary thinking, and I have friends from every age group I can think of. Two of my dearest friends are complete opposite ends of the age range. One is about 13 and the other is my mom's age. I'm so thankful that I can learn and look up to one, and be the one that is looked up to with the other, while still being dear friends with both.

    Unfortunately, this horrible segregation and evolutionary thinking has crept (or rather lept) into the homeschooling world. I don't know if you remember our group in Texas, I'm not sure if y'all were as active in it was we were (before little bro came along that is) but it was so absurdly like a public school atmosphere, it's disgusting. There were the popular girls who looked loftily down upon the klutzy clowns like little unpopular me, then there were the dorks whom everyone teased mercilessly and heartlessly, and there were the stupid cliques and of course, the all powerful age segregation. Heaven forbid I should try to "hang out" (for lack of a better phrase) with my brother's peers... and when, as was often the case, I did go to things and try to do stuff with my brother, I was ignored with cool disdain by people barely 3 or 4 years older than me. Talk about ridiculous.

    Anyhow.... excellent post, I apologize for rambling on so!

    Love you girl!

  4. Very true, Bailey. It's amazing how horrible the "accepted" way to have friendships can make one feel. Homeschool, and even just family life, can produce some good friends that'll do stuff with you even if they aren't the same age.

  5. Flop: Isn't it funny? I had a funny time trying to find it too. Lots of weird articles about some absurb something-came-from-nothing theory that gained popularity in the scientific community......

    Plus, for every person who does shun you, you have three friends clamoring for your attention. ;o)

    Erin: Ugh. I know. I read an article by this feminist businesswoman about how the cell-phone should take precedence over real-life conversations...period. And it took me a few blinks to comprehend that the cute couple sitting against the school wall preferred texting other friends than talking to each other. Not that I'm judging......:o)

    Elissa, I feel your pain. I think wherever there is a large peer group, those cliques emerge. Homeschoolers are some of the worst examples too. We're just saved by the stereotypes. I always love those older girls (you) who step in with a full heart and no agenda and befriend younger girls (me).

    Luckily Chase's friends have been either the sort I don't want to hang out with or the sort that are friends with everybody. Take that any way you wish. ;o)

    Anna, I love my "younger" friends. You girls are amazing...and strangely, don't seem that little. Good thing we go by friendliness instead of PSC (Public School Correctness).

    By the by, our newspaper put out an opinion piece by a man who attended his recent class reunion. He was amazed that the jocks were talking with the geeks, and the cheerleader was befriending the math whiz. He wondered why they had hated and competed with each other in high school.

    Me too.

  6. Well, another good post Bailey! I'm sad to admit that I was apart of this whole process. I was in a clique and did the same thing. And in public school, ya gotta be cool. It's ridiculous to see the extremes people go to. I am quite ashamed of my cliquish behavior and still, I have not been able to quite get over what public school did to me! LOL! But, anyway someone like you who is not following "the rules" is always great to be friends with! And now that I'm homeschooled my so-called "friends" think that I'm really uncool now but hey, it doesn't matter to me anymore!

  7. Well, since I am not cool, it may not matter...but I think you're pretty cool. ;o)

    Honestly, I can see myself getting into a clique...just hanging out with my type and not reaching out to those who need love most. So I'm thinking it's just human nature, and public schoolers aren't alone in the battle.


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