It seems like everywhere I turn, I read or hear about the trouble with teenagers. The media does a fine job of covering the crimes committed by teens as well as the problems they cause in our communities. Well, I beg to differ. Of course, the little, everyday occurrences I’ve been noticing around me aren’t exactly newsworthy, but they are well worth sharing.

Years ago, when my babies were born, I loved the toddler stage and adored them as young children. However, I found myself dreading the day they became teenagers because, I felt, I would be ill equipped to deal with them. How would I be able to convince them to stay away from smoking and drinking or joining a gang? Would I be able to help them if they got into trouble? How would I keep up with them?

I guess I worried in vain because my teenagers are still the same kids I’ve been living with their whole lives. Teenagers do not turn into evil beings once they hit a magic age. Look around and you will see energetic teenagers everywhere. They are in stores, schools, churches, our neighborhoods and in my home. Once you get to know them, they are pretty interesting people. They are learning about their world, trying to figure out who they are and growing into responsible young adults. Certainly they do not always resist temptations and sometimes they make mistakes along the way. The bottom line is, however, they want to be loved and accepted like every one else.

I see teenagers in the schools where I work who are excited about learning and eager to please the adults who teach them. They even say “thank you” as they leave my class. A short while ago, as I entered a local store, a teenager held the door open for me and stepped aside. What a pleasant young man he was! As a spectator at the high school basketball game, I watched as a player was fouled and landed with a loud thud on the hard floor. One athlete from the home team held out his hand to help up his opponent from the visiting team and asked if he was okay. Competition is healthy, but it’s nice to see that teens still care about each other’s well being.

Yes, raising teenagers can be a challenge at times, but, surprisingly, it is rewarding as well. I am enjoying these adolescent years with my son and daughter, their friends and teens everywhere. In a few short years they will be entering a new phase of their lives and likely will leave home. Of course I worry when my teens are out late with friends or wait until the last minute to study for a test.

But, if I need some help with an electronic device or have a question about technology, I ask a teen. If I want to move a heavy piece of furniture, I’ll wait until some teenagers are around. I also have my own personal manicurist, fashion consultant and movie critic living right under my roof. What more could I want?

 

– Special to the Telegram