A conversation I lived through about a million times over:
Person: What do you do for living?
Me: I teach.
Person: Oh, yeah? That’s great! What grade?
Me: High School. I work with teens.
Person: OMG! Ouch! Yikes! Bless your heart! How do you do this?!!! Teens… Ugh… Sigh… (or some variation of this type of emotional nonsense).
While I appreciate all the support and well-wishing, I really LOVE working with teens. I’m ridiculously passionate about being able to communicate with them; see them struggle, evolve, and grow into adulthood. I truly 100% believe that as adults, we can learn quite a few things from these unruly but oh-so-vulnerable and loving young humans.
Teens are notorious for breaking the rules and pushing boundaries. Yet, I assure you – they will gladly take the punishment if the rules are fair. You cannot yell at your teen for playing video games every night when he/she just needs to relax their brain if you are guilty of secretly enjoying too many games of Solitaire on your phone (when you just need “to unwind” after a hard day).
Remember your obsession with vinyl records, Sega, and Super Mario? Then why do you think it’s cool to show off your flip phone to your teen’s friends and proudly state that, “it cannot even have data!” I’m not saying that you need to be Tweeting every hour, but use your teen’s technology knowledge to your advantage and more than that, for another opportunity to connect with them: just ask about another new gadget on the market.
While often labeled ‘hard-headed’, I found it from experience that teens are very forgiving, both – with parents and with peers. Once they understand the situation and cool off from another hormonal ‘jump’, they are much more willing to give adults another go. They are quick to push the situation behind them, and it’s often parents that keep bringing it up.
Teenagers must have “Dream Big” phrase engraved in their brain matter. They hear it so much that they often start acting cynical about it. However, in the depth of their hearts – they are dreamers. They have that fearlessness about them. I love to establish trust with a teen because once he/she opens up and shares their true aspirations – that passion has enough fire to inspire a nation!
I love looking at teens’ school notebooks and backpacks. They decorate them differently, but too many have hearts and names of current and ex-love interests. It’s fascinating to watch a teen’s eyes glimmer with happiness because he/she was asked on a date, had a kiss, or had a first date. They break their young hearts a million times, and without hesitation, jump into relationships all over again. Teens are so vibrant in love that if affects even the grumpiest people around them. I often wish that adults could hold their reservations about people like teens do. We would have a lot more love in the air, guaranteed!