Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What are you afraid of?

I am really, really afraid of teenagers. Boys and girls. Packs of them in movie theaters. Lone ones who want to have an awkward conversation. Passing a group, laughing on the street. Watching them in a documentary.

You think I'm kidding - but I am not. Once children reach the age of reason, and really once they start to mature into semi-deep-thought-thinking beings, I want to run away from them.

Tonight, I watched an episode of This American Life (from the Showtime TV series) that focused on teenagers getting their photographs taken as high school sophomores. It was all there: their embarrassing ideas of what is cool, their pimples, their braces, their conviction that they'd remember the hot guy forever, their ability admit they'd make a mistake with no knowledge or ideas about how to fix it... I cringed. I kept saying, "awwww" and "ohhhhh" and my eyes actually got a little teary. My husband, on the other hand, laughed. A good-natured laugh, but he still chuckled at their growing pains. Not me. I shuddered.

So if anger masks fear... what does fear mask? Why am I so afraid of teenagers? Is it... could it... might I be totally in tune with that teenage part of myself still? Might I remember sharply, precisely how they feel? Might I avoid them like the plague... because... what I really want to do is swoop them up in my arms, erase their Facebook profiles and internet tracks, tell them to stop talking for a second and make them know they'll get out the other side of high school. Where they won't remember half the details, but they will remember every single one of the feelings.

*Thank Anne Shirley for the use of italics.*


  1. Teenagers kind of stress me out too. I think sometimes, somehow, I still almost feel like I need impress them--like really I never actually left high school and I'm still afraid of being judged by all the cool kids. Thankfully, I have gained enough maturity to handle that feeling and deal with teenagers anyway...but it's still down in there somewhere.

  2. I agree with Jen on the impressing them but I think with me it's not like a judged thing but they somehow seem like they still have potential. That younger than me = will know what they want by the time they hit my age. That they will do better than me. Will have more clearly understood goals and motivations.

    Also, on some level I just assume they are judging me, which when added to the "they still have potential and I don't!" issues is a very potent and scary soup.

    Also I still kind of squeal in delight when I see you write, "husband."

  3. For me it's that being young punks there is more of a risk that they'll say what they think of you rather than just being nice and quiet and laughing at you with their friends later. I don't really care what they think of me, I just don't want to hear it 'cause then it rattles around my brain for a couple of hours in an irritating manner.

    Something along the lines of that postsecret from last week about the guy that walked to work way out of his work every day after that girl made fun of him for having a backpack and not a car.

  4. Hoodlums! Teenage boys are hoodlums I say!!! They flock in front of my house, with their boisterous play and foul mouths. And I mean FOUL. Why must they scream expletives at the top of their lungs? Do they not see Jen's small children down the street? And why do they punch the rose bushes that glorify the front of houses? And I'm sorry...what happened to the "short length" rule in schools? When did that go away???

    Yes...I realize I'm channeling a crotchety old woman...but do I want to snuggle them up secretly, deep, deep, down??? That be a no.