I subscribe to FACEBOOK and have had the "priviledge" of getting to observe the lives and morals of today's teenagers through it. To say that my observation is frightening is putting it mildly. Given the fact that I have two daughters who will be teenagers way too soon terrifies me.
I have not been a teenager since 1981. My, how time has changed teenagehood since then. In the late 1970s when I was a teenager, times were already tough for people who were no longer children but were not quite adults either. As I've always said, there is nobody out there who is/was any crueler than kids and teenagers. I was both a victim and a witness to the meaness that can be dished out to one another. I had some strikes against me in grade school. My mother was a school teacher. For some reason, kids find teachers' children to be targets for abuse from the other kids. Fortunately by the time I was in high school, things were better.
Another strike that I now know was held against me was the fact that I was "bi-polar". Back then, there was no lable for the disorder. Instead some of the kids chose to call me Weirdo. Oh, HOW I HATE THAT WORD!!!!!!!!!!! Now I understand why people thought of me that way. Many times, I went from being extremely sad almost to the point of being suicidal to the other extreme where I was completely filled with euphoria. No wonder kids had a tough time trying to figure me out, let alone consider me a friend. Today, there is still a vast amount of kids and teenagers out there who have yet to be diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder. Believe me, those people are paying the same price that I did way back then. Fortunately, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. Later in life, the people who were basically tormentors of mine, have grown up and we've actually been able to become good friends. Not long ago, I received an email from a former classmate of mine. She and I started Kindergarten together and finished high school together. After all of these years, she apologized to me for her part in being mean to me. Her email was actually surpising to me! Until she reminded me, I had forgotten that in grade school I was actually a 'conisseur' of fine glue!!! Oh, mercy! The thought of tasting glue today sickens me. How in the world did I eat it back then! LOL!!! Now, I have to wonder just what other "delicacies" I was known for eating! Anyway, I want to thank you, Judy, for your very kind apology. Believe me, you were one of the BEST friends to me many a year ago. You provided an excellent example to me. Since your email, I have come to realize that I owe my own fair share of apologies to others as well.
Way back then, there were very few kids who actually considered suicide as a viable resource for when things got to be too hard to handle. Today, we are starting to hear of many more kids choosing that way out. I recently read an article on teen and adult suicide. It has been discovered now that only one out of every five people who died as a result of suicide attempts actually meant to do it. The other four people thought that they would be rescued before their attempts went too far. Unfortunately, many of the kids who do die at their own hands, were shoved to taking their own lives by peer pressure.
Today, I discovered that a local teen had added me as his friend on FACEBOOK. I just went to read about him when I found a terribly nasty message that had been left for him by an ex-girlfriend who was definitely harboring some unresolved issues.
You know me, I cannot stand seeing anyone being hurt, let alone the youth of our society. So, I commented to the ex-girlfriend who I do not know and who is not from Leoti. I explained in no uncertain words that her harshness was anything but attractive. Soon, I received her comment to me. I appreciated her honesty. I also learned that I had really opened a LARGE can of worms when I chose to get involved. The intensely personal information that she gave to me just proved how much harder it is to be a teenager in today's world. In the 1970s, we tried to guess who out of our fellow teenagers were "doing it". Even back then, pre-marital sex was considered to be taboo. IF you did engage in sexual behavior, you certainly did not go out and broadcast the information to others. (Unless you were some boys who were wanting to be MACHO!) Some people did tell this innermost secret to their very best friends but they definitely did not want to "brag" about it.
As I read what the girl had written to me via FACEBOOK, I suddenly realized just how benign sex has become to our young people. She knew nothing about me but yet she told me about "being used just to take away her ex's virginity" then he basically dumped her. I was shocked, to say the very least. What is wrong in our world today??? Where have our morals gone??? Why aren't parents, grandparents, etc stepping up to the plate in raising their offspring???
Back in my childhood, I remember many a talk that Daddy and I shared as we sat around the kitchen table. He never professed to be a saint but he still urged me to remain "pure" until my wedding night. I doubt very seriously if 25% of today's brides and grooms are still pure on their wedding night. It is such a shame.
Back in the olden days when I grew up, I can remember that the "all that" group dictated what could be worn and what could not be worn to school. If you happened to not be able to wear the clothes that that group sanctioned, the in group made sure that you were aware of the fact that you "did not fit in". My mother made sure that we wore clean up-to-date clothes to school. (On a funny note, Mama had to be at school by 8:00 a.m. It was Daddy's duty to make sure that we got dressed before we headed for school and the babysitter. Daddy really wasn't much into fashion. He couldn't have cared less about yesterday's style, today's style or the styles of tomorrow. Many a day, Daddy sent me to grade school wearing a dress and a pair of slacks underneath!!! Back then, more girls wore dresses on a daily basis. Daddy wanted to make sure that I stayed warm so I had to wear the pants. Oh, my! LOL!!!)Unfortunately, there were always families who could not afford those clothes, so, of course, they were to be condemned by all. I am seeing that bullying is even worse today than yesterday!!!
I remember the mean comments that were made to the heavy students. Back then, double-knit fabric was used ALOT to construct heavy people's clothes because the fabric stretched. I remember hearing of a young man in Johnson who took a cigarette lighter to school so that he could use it on a certain girl's pair of pants. Of course the fabric did not burn but it darned sure MELTED. It melted a HUGE hole in the rear end of her outfit. The victim was unaware that her clothes were being melted until everyone started laughing at her! The school's principal demanded that the "firebug" purchase a new outfit for the girl. Unfortunately, the drunk punk who started the melting process was not shunned for his behavior. Instead, he became an even bigger rooster in the chicken house! Why is it that people are so bad about "elevating" the bad in our society instead of holding them down where they belong???
Until the past ten or twenty years, homosexual lifestyles were hardly ever openly thought of; let alone spoken of. Now, our kids have to figure out if they find the opposite sex or the same sex more attractive. Then, of course, they can choose to "like" both sexes. It is simple to see why so much sexual confusion exists. If we don't hear about tbe topic from our family and friends, we can see it on TV or at the theatre.
In high school, many of us drove old clunkers back and forth to school, the store, out on dates, etc. There were still plenty-a-kid who walked to school or rode to school with their parents or friends. But, of course, there were always those parents out there who had to "impress" everyone by buying their teenager a brand new-hot-off-of-the-showroom-floor car. Now just how much sense did that make? Almost invariably, those shiny new cars looked like they were ready to retire to the nearest junkyard by the end of the school year!
MY sisters and I had cars. My folks bought our older vehicles with cash from their pockets. They saw no sense in purchasing newer-modelled cars that would have required bank loans. I remember that I drove a Chevy boat for a couple of years in high school. No, it was by far not the prettiest in the school parking lot but it managed to get 8 kids back and forth to school everyday. I wasn't that into "only the best". I was just proud to drive a car that my parents could afford. When I was a senior, Daddy gave me a Ford Mustang that was the same age as me!!! Boy, it turned many an eye! There was just one itty bitty problem with it. It had a manual transmission and I was an "automatic" transmission type driver. Over and over, I would attempt to drive my Mustang up a hill only to have problems clutching! Ah, those were the days...
When I look back to 1980 when I graduated, I don't remember there being such a tremendous need to get into the "hip" colleges. There is today! Shoot! Back then I decided to "lay out of school for a year" then I would go to nursing school the following year. No big deal! Instead, I met and married the love of my life before the following year got here! Today, more and more pressure is being placed on our children to go to college so that you can make the BIG bucks! For many kids, that's fine but for others, school has never been a forte. We need to remember to let the graduate make his or her own decisions about their career.
Boy! This has turned out to be VERY long-winded!!! I just wanted to express my sadness of seeing everything that our youth are having to carry on their shoulders today. If you are a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, etc., step up and guide your special ones through the toughest times of their life. Be a POSITIVE role model! You never know who might be looking at you as the chief role model in their lives...