Thursday, January 20, 2011

Teenagers scare the living shit out of me

Today I am talking about teens. Strange topic I guess when one considers that I have two small children. I was going to have a normal bitch and moan (mostly about my laptop, which I want to punch in the face) but I was distracted by an assignment I am doing about teenagers at the moment. Now you are probably thinking 'What the shit would she know about teenagers' right? Sometimes, more than their own parents. I have worked with teenagers, basically since I joined the workforce.

Most people think that I have lost my mind. I have friends who teach primary, and everyone goes all gushy over the little kids. But let me tell you something, I have also worked in a primary school and primary kids are all whiny and 'I wanna go to the toilet' and 'Miss, he pulled my hair' and 'Miss I think I am going to ...*hurls all over my shoes*'. Teenagers have a decent amount of control over their bodily functions, that is the main reason that I like them.

Teenagers are a very misunderstood breed. I think that song, by that Emo band sums it up quite well 'Teenagers scare the living shit out of me'. Much of society has a very negative view of this particular age group. They are seen as lazy, no good mischief makers. Teens are hard, I get that. I had a lunch mate at a previous school whom we shall call Mr M. Now Mr M was your run of the mill average teacher who loved his job, loved his students and loved to join me across the road for lunch, a quick smoke and a chat. One day I went to school and Mr M met me at the shop as usual. On that day? A student threw a desk at him. Not a chair, a desk. The student was 15. About two weeks later, I went to meet Mr M for lunch and low and behold, no Mr M. I went back to my office and carried on my day. Next day, no Mr M. And again the next day. Lunches were getting to be a whole lot of boring for me. I finally figured I would find out what had happened to Mr. M. Turns out a 16 year old student lost it, grabbed a fence paling and belted the shit out Mr. M, until another teacher, whom we shall Mr S, pulled the student off. Now Mr M ended in hospital with some pretty horrible wounds. The student was suspended, pending expulsion. Then Mr M and Mr S were pulled up by the powers that be about their professional conduct, Mr M for having said something to the student and Mr S for man handling a student. In the end Mr M and Mr S retained their jobs, and the student went back to the school.

Now they are the horrific stories that we regularly hear about in schools, but I also want to share with you the tender moments that I have had with some of my students over the years. Some of the simple things that make me see that teenagers are a very misunderstood breed. I walked into the school admin building one day, only to find a student coming out. He proceeded to open the door for me, stood and held it open, let me go trough then proceeded out the door with a 'hello Miss' on his way out. Who says they aren't chivalrous. Also I have a story about a student that truly warms my heart. I walked into my office one lunch hour to find the regular eight or nine students who came down to see me at lunch. One, whom we shall call T, was sitting in my chair. I asked him to move so that I could sit down and eat my lunch, He flat out refused to a number of times (and I wanted to boot his ass out of my chair) and as I was about to lose my temper and give him a detention, another student, whom we shall call J, came to my aid. He told T that he was being disrespectful and that he had to move and give me back my chair number one because it was my office and I had asked him to move, and two because I was a lady. How sweet is that?

Now yes, I know that teenagers can scare the living shit out of anyone. They can appear standoffish, rude and at times dangerous. But we have them type cast by the few who are like that. My good stories? Outweigh my bad ones tenfold. Even more so when you consider that I see these young people away from their parents. They don't have to be nice to me, they don't have to treat me with respect. But mostly they do.

So next time you see that 15 year old, with her hair dies black, wearing black cut offs, and piercings in places you didn't think possible, remember this: they are expressing themselves. They are forming their own identity. They want to stand apart form the crowd as much as they want to fit in. She may sneer at you as you walk past, but think about this, she will probably open the door for you out of respect. Don't give teens a hard time. They are different to the teenagers that we were, but they are doing the same thing we did: blazing their own trail.

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