Monday, June 13, 2011

People Who Kick Ass - Teenagers

For most of this week, we'll be joining the ever-witty, immensly readable, Mammalingo in celebrating the people around us who don't get the attention and accolades they properly deserve. Tired of hearing about Weiner's weiner or Lindsay's latest stint in rehab/jail/ankle braceleting? So are we. That's why we're talking about some great people who actually deserve a little press.

Sexting. Cyber-bullying. Stealing prescription meds from their parents' medicine cabinets. These are the types of stories and headlines most often associated with teenagers. The kind of news that has parents of younger kids either investigating boarding school or cowering under the covers in fear of the demon their little darling will soon grow into. However, these aren't the teenagers I know, which makes me think today's teens are getting a bum rap in the media --which, let's face it, is nothing new. The teenagers I know are People Who Kick Ass.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching my three-year-old daughter's swimming class and I looked around the pool at all of the teenagers who were there, early on a Saturday morning, teaching toddlers to swim. According to the news, these kids should be sleeping off a hangover or torturing a classmate on Facebook, yet here they were, bright and early being productive citizens. There were close to a dozen of them and I watched, impressed, as they compassionately instructed little ones to dunk their heads under water. One teen calmly and patiently helped one small boy overcome his fear of the water by carrying him up and down the length of the lane, talking to him softly and reassuringly. These were kids who had gotten training to teach others to swim, gotten jobs and gotten themselves out of bed at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday.

Those are high school kids, you say. What about the middle schoolers? They're the truly awful ones. On my block, there are several middle school boys. At an age where one expects grunting and eye-rolling to be directed towards any adult, I have found these kids to be incredibly nice and polite, warm and friendly. My two toddlers simply adore the middle school boys on the block and have been known to rap on the windows and scream like a 'tween at a Justin Bieber concert when "the boys" are outside. Luckily, for once, this is not undeserved idol worship. These middle school boys are so nice and indulgent towards my kids, who routinely wander into their games of street hockey and tell them all about the latest episode of Max & Ruby they just watched. Once, I somehow wound up on the other side of the street from my daughter and one of the boys, unsolicited, held her hand and helped her cross the street. When they're not serving as white knights to toddlers in distress, these kids are riding bikes, playing street hockey, football, baseball... Basically, exactly what kids their age should be doing.

I'm Facebook friends with a number of my cousins' teenaged kids and what I see online only serves to reaffirm my belief that teenagers, in general, are much cooler than they get credit for. These teens post status updates about upcoming choir concerts, school plays, horseback riding lessons, and spending time with their parents. They also seem to ask each other for help with homework, so unless there's some unheard of app that automatically changes risqué posts into adult-friendly messages, these are some awesome kids, who are busy and active doing the sorts of things everyone wants kids to be busy and active doing.

As a parent whose kids are a long way from this stage of life, it's incredibly reassuring to encounter teens who are active and engaged with sports and hobbies that they feel passionate about. So teens, try not to get discouraged by the way the media portrays you and keep on kicking ass.

Want to read about more people who kick ass? Check out these fabulous blogs as well:

If you're a blogger and know some People Who Kick Ass and deserve to be recognized for it, link up with us this week and spread the word.


  1. I have some very responsible teenage babysitters and consider myself lucky that they are watching my children.... I know I wasn't that responsible at that age.

  2. I had teenage babysitters when I was growing up and I LOVED them. I thought it was soo cool to hang out with high schoolers - even if they were paid to spend time with me ;)

  3. Great post. You're right, we hear mainly about the terrible, and sometimes about the heroes, but rarely about the solid performers. If you listen to the news too much you'll think that everyone's a killer, there are plagues and tornadoes everywhere, and you have 20 diseases.

  4. I loved this, Dana. And, I agree with you. I even have some of your "examples" in my own life. Our babysitters. The teens who teach various sports classes on the weekends. Our neighbors. Of course, just one confession. When it comes to Facebook, it is I and not my teenage relatives who wrote something inappropriate. A few days after I finally created a personal profile, an ad for a "pole dancing class" popped up to the right of my page. Of course, I had to mention it. Then, I remembered my tween cousins who I'm friends with... Ugh. I'm THAT person. So inappropriate!

  5. Perfecting Dad. Yes, it's so true. We hear about the exceptions on both sides. The above and beyond heroes and the total screw-ups. Sometimes it's refreshing to hear about people who are just normal, good people and remember how many of them are actually out there.

    Ha! Melissa - I always worry about inappropriate things I've posted on Facebook...


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