Three Teenage Things: Unsocialized7:30 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.