Thursday, December 22, 2011

Teen Stereotypes

I was at a neighborhood Christmas party with about twenty people whose ages ranged from ten to seventy-three. My friend and I were sitting at a table with two adults. She was talking about all the car crash  videos she watched in her drivers ed class and how most of them involved texting. For some reason, everybody associated teenagers with car crashes. That is logical-a 16 year old has less driving experience than a 56 year old. While I was on this train of thought, I  said, "Adults have so many stereotpyes about teenagers."
The adults looked surprised. One woman said, "Do we?"
Hmm...let's see. According to stereotype, all teenagers are about sixeteen years old. Go to google images. How many of those kids look thirteen? All of us have about fifty piercings and tattoos on our faces alone. All of us. That's because all of us are gangsters. We all use drink, smoke, use drugs, text, and crash cars. At the same time, because we are a generation of multitaskers.  That's just how we live. All we do is go to school and then go home to singlehandedly support the video game industry.
Oh, and most importantly, we're always wrong. The exact same words that would be a joke from a child, a casual statement from another adult, and astoundingly clever if you said it, are sarcasm when we talk.
I think there's a little more to teenagers. Stories about teenaged gangsters crashing cars are usually the only ones that make headlines next to adult politicians and adult criminals. Most people who aren't directly involveved with teenagers on a regular basis don't bother to look beyond the bad and into the realm of normality.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Teens of the Year

If you've rallied against the government in the Arab Spring or occupied Wall Street (or Tokyo, or Oakland, or London) you have something in common with JFK, Queen Elizabeth II, and Mark Zuckerburg.
Congratulations. You are Time Magazine's Person of the Year. You (and your buddies) have played a greater roll in shaping 2011 than any human being on the planet. At least according to Time.
Let's take a look at some of the teenage protesters who share this honor.
Hamza Ali al-Kahteeb (13) and Tamer Mohammed al-Sharei (15)

This is Hamza. He and Tamer were tortured and killed in seperate incidents after they protested against inhumane conditions in Syria and the reign of President Assad. He's obviously going to pushed out eventually. I just wish Assad would hurry up so we can stop the shed of innocent blood and check off Syria on the same list as Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. If anybody deserves this recognition, they do. Thank you for your sacrifice.

Alec Loorz, 16
An old Dutch proverb says, "We don't inherit the world from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children."
Alec Loorz is passionate about both saving the environment and empowering youth. Everybody knows they're supposed to care for the world, but Alec is taking it far beyond recycling and carpooling. He's suing the government-not for money-but to reduce CO2 emission 6% every year until it disappears entirely. He believes they are responsible for overpollution and overdevelloping the planet that rightfully belongs to our generations and those to follow.  Loorz says:
"I believe this revolution needs to be led by youth. It’s our future we’re fighting for, and we are some of the most creative, dedicated, and passionate people on the planet. We have the moral authority to look into our parents and leaders eyes and ask them, “Do I matter to you?”
Also, as youth, we are the last group of people in the United States who don’t have any official political rights. We can’t vote, and we certainly can’t compete with rich corporate lobbyists, so we are forced to simply trust our government to make good decisions on our behalf.
The time has come for the youngest generation to hold our leaders accountable for their actions."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teenager Escapes Terrorists

Kevin Lunsmann, Come home safe.
Kevin (left) and a friend try on interesting coats prior to his kidnapping.

Kevin should have spent the summer wandering around the mall with friends. He should have started school in August and suffered through the same boring classes as everybody else. But this July, Kevin was vacationing with relatives in the Phillipines. He was probably looking forward to sunshine and a vacation he could brag about to his friends at home. Not terrorists for sure.
On July 12, Kevin and his relatives were kidnapped by terrorists with connections to al-Qaida. His captors called their family in Virginia to demand a ransom. When paid, only his mother was released. She stayed in the Phillipines to help free her son. His cousin escaped last month with help from the Filipino military. And so Kevin was left alone.
Not knowing if he would ever be released, he took matters into his own hands. He convinced four armed captors he was going down to the river to bathe. Kevin ran for his life-alone, hungry, exhausted, and shoeless in a foreign jungle-until he came upon a village. Unsure if the villagers were friendly, he ran from them to before they were able to convince him they didn't want to hurt him. They got him to officials, who helped him contact his parents and friends.

Kevin discusses his escape with Filipino soldiers.

When asked if a ransom had been paid, which would violate Filipino policy, Kevin said, "No, I really did it myself." The boy's father says, "I only know he is a hero and I'm so happy he escaped.
Alec Dement, Kevin's best friend, says "I’ve just been basically depressed every day,” he said. “I didn’t really talk to anybody for like three weeks." He can't wait for him to come home. “I just want to give him a hug and hang out with him for a couple of days straight."
After his dramatic escape from terrorists, Kevin will be home for Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rules Are Changing

Everybody knows the internet rules. Don't mention where you live. Don't tell anybody your last name. While you're at it, don't even give them your real first name. Don't talk to people online if you've never met them in reality. Never, ever, meet an online friend in reality.
But the rules are changing. When you think about it, those rules came into existence when online communication meant chatrooms and, for the kiddies, virtual worlds like Club Penguin. Does anybody really use chatrooms anymore? They've given away to social networking sites. Chatting is fun, but it's more fun when you can add pictures and search for long-lost friends. With facebook, you have to put your full name on your page, otherwise nobody knows who the heck you are.
As for meeting in person, a survey of 10,000 couples taken back in 2008 reported that 14% of married couples surveyed met online. That isn't to say you should meet any random internet friend in person and then get in a car with them. Lots of these couples probably met on safe dating networks.
Personally, I think it's okay to use your real name when you're leaving a comment on  an online article or facebook page. All the kidnapping stories I've heard happened after a predator took several months to build up a relationship online. None of them snatched some random girl who put her first and last name on her facebook page which  they used to track her down.
There's no doubt the internet has changed in the past five or so years. The rules have evolved along with them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Is Math Really Worth It?

Last year, middle school math looked like this: seventh grade math, pre-algebra, algebra one, geometry, and algebra two. Most seventh graders were put it seventh grade math and moved up each year. Students who were more comfortable with math would start in pre-algebra or algebra one if they were extremely nerdy in the advanced program.
Then some genius decided we should learn algebra and geometry all at once. Now we have normal seventh grade math, seventh grade honors math, etc. I'm sure the genius had his/her reasons, but after a few months living the math program I've noticed a few mistakes.
Problem #1: It holds back more advanced students. I'm in ninth grade, but some of our lessons come out of the book I was using in seventh grade.
Problem #2: There's no textbook. The idiots who changed the curriculum smart people are still working on it. It'll come out next year. We could have waited until next year to change it up, just saying. The fancy new curriculum covers material from three different books, so the teachers haven't even bothered distributing them. We can't even look through one for reference because we don't know what book or unit we're in or where to find the information we need. Ask the teacher, you say? We can't because
Problem #3: teachers are writing their own worksheets, so the information isn't coming from the books in the first place. 
Problem #4: If there's no book, parents can't help. They may have learned f(x)=3^x into -f(x+5/6) in school, but that was a long time ago and it's hard to remember something you don't use in everyday life. 
Problem #5: We'll start a unit by learning how to write some new kind of equation or inequality. That very day, we'll get a worksheet, correct it tomorrow, and then learn how to add it. Take home that worksheet, sweat over it, and come back tomorrow to learn how to subtract. Then we cover multiplying, dividing, graphing, and naming the properties. It's guess it's efficient to swallow a concept a day, but the rules for multiplying get jumbled up with the addition rules until you can't remember which is which.
 Problem #6: Because of the concept-a-day method, you can't google 'solving transformations on linear functions' and find the rules for the specific concept you covered today. You can't just ask the teacher how to do it tomorrow, because by then everybody has moved on. 
The math system is frustrating at best and agonizing at worst.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Policy for Policy's Sake

Every school I've heard of has a long list of banned stuff-miniskirts, ipods, alcohol, missle launchers, etc. But some of it just seems ridiculous. Two years ago, my school placed ban on knitted headbands. They cover the ears, so they qualify as hats. That just doesn't make sense to me. The whole reason hats are banned is because they're associated with gangs. I guess that makes sense if you're from Chicago, but my school is in a rinky dinky settlement they call a city because it's to big to qualify as a small town.  I've never even heard of any gang activity going on in my 'city'.
You have to admit, she makes one very scary gangster.
Hats are only one small part of the dress code, but for some reason they're the one teachers and principals pay the most attention to. I've seen people come to school day after day with sagging pants, holey underwear, and shirts that don't leave a lot to imagination. But forget to remove your hood (yep, that's a hat too) fifteen seconds after you walk through the doors and the principal is barking at you to take it off.
Other schools have banned stupid things. In 2010, an eight-year-old boy in Rhode Island was told to take off a hat he made to honor troops. Not because the hat was a hat, but because it was covered with 'weapons', or so the school policy said.

Then there are the books. When I think of banned books, I think of racist books or novels about things I can't mention because my mom reads this. Not Harry Potter, The Giver, Where's Waldo?, A Wrinkle in Time, and James and the Giant Peach.  Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird are constantly under fire because of racist language, which is kind of ironic because they were written to fight racism.
School rules are supposed to protect students, but you can't help wondering if they're blindly following policy for the sake of correctness, rather than the safety issues behind the rules in the first place.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Teacher Personality Types

Have you ever noticed that teachers have similar personalities depending on which subject they're teaching? Not all of them fit into these categories, but many do.
Science teachers: It's a big, fascinating world out there and they want you to explore it! However, they may occasionally feel bored and frustrated that they're standing up by the whiteboard giving a lecture on photosynthesis to a bunch of disinterested students instead of exploring the big, fascinating world.
Social studies teachers: They too think the world is a fascinating place, but they feel kind of awkward when they're standing up there going blah, blah, blah and getting nothing but blank glances in return. Offer an insightful comment and they'll love you forever. Or offer a smart aleck comment, because even those are appreciated.
English teachers: Literature holds a very special place in their hearts. So special, they go thumpthumpthump whenever somebody pulls out a copy of The Giver. Because of the theme, not the handsome guy on the cover. They understand, however, that not everybody feels this wonderful sensation and try their best to make you appreciate it. They like discussions, too, making it another class where you can get away with a few snide comments. I didn't even know the words snide and cynical were positive adjectives until my teacher used them to describe me at parent teacher conferences.
Math teachers: They do not like comments. Or discussions. There's only one right answer in math, so sit down, shut up, and find it.
Fine arts teachers: They know you're here because you signed up for the class, not because you had to. Both of you care more about having fun and appreciating theater/music/art. So why not turn it into a party?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Word on Tweens

The word 'teenager' didn't come into existence until the 1940's. Before then, they were simply young men or young women, not quite children but not quite adults. Now, after seventy years of fashion and music and books designed specifically for teenagers, we're starting to see another in between group. Tweens.
It's not a word you hear too much, partly because it's a new term and partly because it just sounds weird. Tweens are roughly between the ages of 10 and 12, too old to act like younger children but too young to technically be called teenagers.
At fifteen, I remember my tween years as a time of trying to span two worlds. I had outgrown The Children's Place and all the other stores my mom used to take me shopping. All my clothes either came from Justice or Target. I've always been an avid reader, but I was picking up books less and less. Back in second grade, I read at least five books a week. Now I was going to the library once a month, wandering the children's section until I came up with three books. I hadn't discovered the smaller section for teenagers yet, so I thought I'd read everything that was worth reading. Now what was I supposed to do in my spare time?
Bored distracted girl student in classroom - education photo
Then I discovered Disney Channel. Hannah Montana. High School Musical. Zach and Cody. The Jonas Brothers. Miley Cyrus. High School Musical 2. Older kids, cool kids, acting out fascinating lives I could relate to and enjoy. I came home from school every day and sat in front of the TV for three hours, respectively. And with the help of that new ipod thing, I could carry their music around in my pocket. No CDs required.
I wanted to be like that. Cool. Fascinating. And older, so I could finally fall into the firm, solid category of Teenager instead of hanging out in gray, misty abyss of in between.
placeand rockin movie princess protection program camp rock luv movies
It took me a long time to realize how stupid they really were.

My tween years weren't all bad, though. One of my favorite memories was the day my family went out to a theme park. I was the perfect height, the perfect age, to not be bored by the little rides

And not freak out on the big rides.

Well, it seemed bigger then.
Now that's a big ride.
A blur of shopping and rides. A very long, pointless blur of everything Disney. To short a blur to remember in great detail. To short for signifigant emotional development. To short for the world (aside from Justice and Disney) to care.
And then my tween years were over, almost before I knew the term.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fun is Dangerous

    Yesterday was my brother's birthday. We went out to celebrate at a place with pizza, bowling, arcade games, and go karts. My dad thought it would be good for me to practice driving on a go kart. After all, they're just like real cars but not as dangerous.
     Or so I thought.
     My friend and I went to go stand in line when we realized there were two. The line for single passeneger karts was very long. The double passenger line was completely empty. Because we are intelligent people, we stood in the double line.
     There was this little sign with an arrow pointing towards the double line that said:
     All drivers must be over 54' with a valid driver's lisence. Passengers must be over 36'.
     We didn't take it seriously because it wasn't a real sign, just a piece of paper taped a foot above the ground. That makes it a little hard for passengers over 36' to read. Besides, how many sixteen-year-olds hang out in dinky overpriced "party places"? That had to be one of the rules nobody bothers to enforce.
     The guy came up to unlock the gate seperating us from the very dangerous go karts."Which one of you is driving?" he asked.
     "She is," my friend said.
     "May I see your driver's lisence?"
     I actually do have one. It's a very special lisence you can only see if you believe. I used to have an invisible car to go with it, but I lost it in the grocery store parking lot. Pity. I think it might have been a mustang.
     I decided that doesn't make it valid. We walked away and got ice cream. Have you ever thought of the havoc a three foot tall child could cause with an ice cream machine? They might have difficulty lifting the handle back up when they were done. If nobody with a valid driver's lisence raced to their rescue, the ice cream might spill onto the floor. That would create a hazard for any people (or go karts)trying to walk (or drive) by.
     I'm trying to think of how that rule could be necessary. It's perfectly possible for a kid to injure themselves in one of those. Maybe they want to make sure some stupid kids don't injure themselves and another person at the same time. Or at least, not a person above 36 inches.
     I don't know what they have against toddlers.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

School Lunches are Disgusting Enough Already

....and after
      The first time I walked into my middle school cafeteria, I thought I might have stumbled into heaven. At least until I ended up at the very back of the line. But long waits aside, it seemed spectacular. My elementary school cafeteria had two lines, each one offering a different choice everyday. But this new school had five. Five. A pizza line. A salad bar. One for sandwiches. Another for corndogs, mini corndogs, chicken sandwiches, and spicy chicken sandwiches. A "variety" line  that changes daily with baked potatoes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
     After a few months, the charm wore off. Half of the sandwiches are made in factories and shipped to my school in cardboard boxes. The pizza comes from Five Buck in cardboard boxes. The variety and carnivore line are out of question because I'm an involuntary vegetarian (I gag if I try to eat a piece of steak the size of my thumbnail).
     Then the salad bar-the delicious salad bar with eggs and olives and cheese and croutons and cream cheese I visited three days a week-was replaced by a table of prepackaged salads in plastic containers. I've gotten them maybe ten times since they changed things two years ago. I feel so wasteful because they're big salads
with 3 spoonfuls of eggs and about 36 cubic inches of spinach.
     I guess things could be worse. We don't have mystery meat like they do in cartoons (though I'm not exactly sure where the corndogs come from). My brothers, who are still in elementary school, have whole wheat breadsticks that don't break if you whack them against the table.
    This week I heard on the news that congress was considering a bill that would make school lunches healthier to reduce childhood obesity. I actually shouted at the TV. Healthier is not the problem here. The problem is making the stuff they give us lest disgusting. I've seen people skip lunch hundreds of times. That's not an exaggeration. It's not just the vegetarians and anorexics, but people who don't feel like eating factory dust again.
     Besides, obesity? Sure, some people have weight problems. Even twelve-year-olds. But according to Michelle Obama, 1 out of 3 people under 18 are overweight.
     Uh, no. Every time I hear that, I look at the people around me. There are six at this table, lady. Which two of us are fat? The girl who eats lunch twice a month? The one who throws away a half-eaten sandwich? (There are starving teenagers in countries your husband doesn't oversee) Oh, those statistics don't necessarily apply to our group? Maybe to that girl at the next table then, the one who's eating a bag of peas  from home with no drink or other food groups to balance it out.
     I'm sure we could find some common ground. Something healthy and tasty.


Monday, November 14, 2011

How to Get Candy in November

Is your Halloween candy running low? Here is a slightly weird step by step guide created from my personal experience that will help refill your candy bucket.
1: Get friends. It's easier to slam the door on one person than six.
2: Dress up, so they now you're being serious.
3: Bring along plastic lightsabers so you can threaten people.
4: Choose houses of people who have known you forever and will thus think you're being cute instead of bizarre.
5: Ignore the weird stares.
6: And the slammed doors.
7: And when they insist they're out of candy.
8: If they try to remind you it's not Halloween, begin singing Jingle Bells. Everybody loves carolers. At least, mostly everybody.
9: Keep standing on their porch.
10: Say thank you, even if they only gave you a roll of lifesavers.
I tried this and it actually works! I got two toothbrushes, a roll of smarties, three suckers, a pack of cards, and a handful of jolly ranchers.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday, dear Eliza, happy birthday to me.
That's right, people. I was fourteen, but now I'm fifteen.
I'm trying to see the difference. So far, I've noticed two:
1: My thirteen-year-old friends think it's weird that I'm so much older than them
2: I can drive-once I take the learner's permit test, of course.
I was talking to my friend about studying for the test. She told me her brother had a copy of the driver's handbook he probably wouldn't use anymore. I told her to giftwrap it and bring it to my party.
I didn't think she would take me seriously.
I don't feel different. I don't look different. I wonder if adults will treat and think of me differently than they would a fourteen year old. What do you think? Can a year make a difference? How about three or four? Is a thirteen-year-old that different from a seventeen-year-old? Do they have more differences than a thirty-year-old and thirty-four-year-old would?
 Leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Not Cranky Old Lady

Old ladies have a certain reputation for being cranky. Sometimes this is true, sometimes not.
The city likes to use my school for a voting place. There's always an old lady manning the voting table. Today I wondered what she would do if a teenager tried to vote. I got my friend to walk in with me. We had our student id's ready.
"Hello," I told the fluffy-haired lady. "We'd like to vote." I was expecting her to say snappy, tell us to get away, mutter about teenagers these days. Instead, she smiled.
"Do you have your ID's that say you're over twenty-one?"
We held up our cards. According to mine, I'm 8,519,307 years old. Or maybe that's my ID number.
"Well, you're certainly old and gray," she said. "But I'm sorry. I can't give you a sticker or else everybody would want one. Come after school."
It was nice to talk to somebody like her. It's like killing two stereotypes with one stone. Plus, I got a sticker.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Standards These Days

Everybody talks about how different teenagers are these days-music is dirtier, clothes are tighter, and books are...well, sometimes TV can be more appropriate than reading. Sometimes.
I am extremely annoyed with all this. How are we supposed to live decent lives with high personal standards when the world's are so low? My mom almost never turns on the radio in the car. If she does, she changes stations every fifteen seconds in effort to find a song that isn't about drugs or sex.
It's hard for anybody to live a clean life, but especially so for teenagers. We listen to same radio stations and watch the same shows as adults because that's all there is. Count Nickelodeon and Disney if you like, but most people who like them are under the age of twelve. Besides, would you really describe Miley Cyrus or Demi Lovato as good role models?
And then there's the books. I like books. I review good books on my other blog, goodteenreads. Unfortunately, I only update it every week or few because nothing is appropriate. So many books include scenes where something you see a lot in movies. No, not that, get your mind out of the gutter. But something that approaches that.
Moving on. Call me idealistic, but it's a dirty world, getting dirtier with each passing generation. This generation has to wallow in the mess created by the adults who put the adult in adult movie. I know standards aren't likely to change soon, at least not for the better, but please don't blame teenagers for putting these standards into place.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Costumes These Days

Dear Fashion Designers of the World,
October is a cold time of year, particularly the end of October. In case you're unaware, that's when Halloween takes place. I had to wear a jacket over my gypsy costume this year. It's made of thin polyester, but it's far from the coldest. Nearly all Halloween costumes for teenage girls I see in stores and catologues look something like this, minus the leggings.

I believe you are unaware that some of us live outside of  Florida.
Temperature aside, have you considered the modesty issues? Everybody talks about the appaling dress standards of teenagers these days-particularly the tank tops and short shorts you see girls wearing in the summer. That's the season that does not take place in October in the Northern Hemisphere, where I happen to live.
The general population seem to believe teenagers want to wear low cut, low rising, tight clothes. We don't get to design and manufacture the clothes. We're the ones who have to wear them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Silly Teenage Fun

Teenagers are supposed to be "troublemakers". It may be a stereotype, but there's nothing wrong with a having a little bit of silly teenage fun. Today I was collecting donations for the food bank with four friends. We realized it was only two days after Halloween, so we decided to tell whoever answered the door at the next house that we were trick-or-treating.
He was not amused. He did give us some caramel apples his grandchildren didn't want along with the canned stuff for the food bank. Apples are perishable, so we couldn't donate them.
 Can silly teenage fun be a good thing? Click the little orange button and tell me what you think.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween is Not So Scary

When I was in kindergarten, the teachers gathered all the kids in one room to watch a video about Halloween safety. We observed children in safe, visible costumes going to safe houses in a large group (though the voiceover explained it's better to be with a parent). When the kids went home, their parents (oh, now you show up) broke all their candy and pulled out the needles hidden inside.
Even though it was nine years ago, I remember thinking:
It's no fun to eaten broken candy.
And then, Nobody ever put sharp things in my candy.
As a matter of fact, nobody has ever died from eating Halloween candy a stranger has tampered with. It's an urban legend, people, like the Manhattan sewer gators. So have fun, get some cool candy, and don't worry-unless you live in New York.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bangle Danger

     Everybody knows you shouldn't let children three or under loose with soap of laundry detergent-the labels are clear enough. But after a certain age, people are mature enough to be trusted around dangerous objects.
     Or are they?
     I noticed this label on a set of bangles I got to go with my fortune teller costume.
     Choking Hazard-Not for children under 13 years.
     Maybe they're measuring in dog years.
    There bracelets are approximately three inches in diameter. Do you know any twelve-year-olds with throats that large? But then again, they're made of flimsy metal. Maybe they would fit if you bent them just right.
    But really, who would do such a thing? My dog is smarter than that. He might chew on them if I jingled them in front of his face, but not swallow them.
    I guess that's just another one of the dangers you'll have to look out for this Halloween. Drugs, disgusting Almond Joys, overzealous boys dressed as zombies, and dangerous costume jewelry.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm Supposed to Be Three

     I was taking my dog on a walk yesterday when I ran into my neighbor, who had his dog and grand-daughter, a cute three-year-old named Callie, with him. Our dogs are buddies so we walked together, eventually ending up at the park.
     Callie had very specific ideas about how the playground equipment
was supposed to be used. I couldn't sit on the railing because I'd fall (all of three feet) and get hurt. I
had to step on the first stair leading to the slide, even though it only rises an inch above the ground.
She climbed up the slides, though, and let me do it as long as I climbed the right slide.
     After about ten minutes, Callie asked, "Where's your mom."
    "At home."
    "You're not supposed to be here alone."
    "I'm a big girl. I can go to the park alone."
    "No, I'm a big girl. I'm three."
    "I'll be fifteen in a few weeks."
    Callie didn't like that. "But you're supposed to be three!"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why Cell Phones Are Necessary

     A few months ago, I was at the movie theater with my friend Annie. The movie ended and we walked out into the lobby, wondering when one of our parents would pick us up. Did they know the movie ended at eight? We couldn't remember.
     Most of you probably see the solution to this: Call our parents. But neither of us have cell phones, so we wandered around, looking for somebody we knew. Usually it's filled with people we know, but not that day. After spending a good ten minutes looking at people, I noticed a pay phone. Neither of us had used a pay phone before, but there were little directions printed on the side.
1: Pick up reciever and listen for tone.
2: Insert quarter
3: Dial number
     I picked up the receiver and listened for tone. It was silent. Either we had somehow misunderstood step one, or the phone had been disconnected because nobody uses those things except for us.
     Luckily, Annie saw a girl she had known five years ago. She had a phone, and we were able to call for a ride.
     People say cell phones are unnecessary, especially for teens. I don't want one because all of my fri-ends have one-I want one because most of my close friends don't, and somebody has to call for a ride.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quiz Time!

     This one is for all you mothers out there. You happen to notice one of your daughter's friends running around in a gorilla suit. Do you
A: Snort in disbelief. Teenagers these days!
B: Lock the door, draw the curtains, and warn your daughter never to make eye contact with that strange girl again.
C: Laugh. It is funny, after all.
D: Grab the gorilla suit you wore when you crashed your daughter's other friend's party, put it on, and chase your gorilla friend around the neighborhood.
     If you answered
A: It's called fun.
B: Somebody is a little fussy. What did you do for fun when you were a teenager-embroider samplers?
C: Good for you!
D: Mom, you're not allowed to vote. And you need to return that gorilla suit already. I'm sick of staring at that mask every time I get in the car.*
*And you thought I was weird.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


     Why didn't I think about that before? After all, I know everything. Except for how the heck I'm supposed to get a job at the age of fourteen.  I'll ask my parents.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sarcastic Remarks

     What do you think you're doing, young lady? You can't sleep now. You've text messages to send, songs to listen to, essays to write, random phrases to google, blog posts to write, pictures to upload on facebook, and celebrities to follow. Up! Up! Up!
     Look at how efficient Little Joey is. Why can't you be more like him? Sheesh, teenagers these days.
 Why, back in my day...

I'll invite one of your little friends over. They'll make sure you do something online and you will be all smiles and sunshine.

 Speaking of sunshine, why don't you go outside and get some vitamin D?

     You heard me, go off and have fun!
     Now I have some time to figure out youtube without your dissbelieving gasps. Hmm...what does this button do? it! Yippee!

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Love This Quote

     As if being a teenager weren't hear enough-hormones going crazy, friends with hormones going crazy, teachers nagging you like crazy, parents with no patience for your particular brand of crazy, and mirrors with daily surprises that surely have no other purpose than to drive you crazy. No wonder everyone thinks teens are legally insane.
                 -Deborah Halverson
     Thank you. I'll use this as my excuse now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beautiful Brains

     While I was waiting at the orthodontist today, I noticed an issue of National Geographic with a title story called Beautiful Brains: The New Science of the Teenage Brain. Being me, I picked it up. The article mostly talks about teenagers taking risks-drinking, smoking, trying dangerous skateboarding stunts, etc. Several pictures of "typical" teenage life were included.

Interesting fashion choices...


What the heck?

     In my experience, typical teenage life looks more like this:

      Not intense at all.
      My favorite part of the article is a quote from B.J, a neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College: "We're so used to seeing adolescence as a problem. But the more we learn about what really makes this period unique, the more adolescence starts to seem like a highly functional, even adaptive period. It's exactly what you'd need to do the things you have to do then."

Friday, September 23, 2011

How to Talk About School: For Teens

     "How was school today?"
     You've heard this phrase almost every day of your life since kindergarten. Chances are, your sick of it. What are you supposed to say beyond "Okay"? Here are a few tips I've picked up.
Three Things Not to Do:
1: Don't brush your parents off. They're asking because they care, and they can help you with problems if you let them  know. This also helps them understand your world better.
2: Don't blab on and on and on. And on. Sure, it's important to you that Abby is ignoring Becky because she's friends with Caitlin now even thought she hasn't talked to Madison after she broke up with Jason when she saw him talking to Hailey. But their eyes will start to glaze over.
3: Don't open with the negative. If you walk into the house and say,"My language arts teacher doesn't have a soul," or "I hate Cathy, I don't know why we were ever friends," their first impulse is to correct you. That sort of stuff is best told to friends or journals.
Three Things to Do:
1: Listen. Your parents want to have a conversation, not stand there and be fed information.
2: Be specific. Admit it, your school day was more than fine/okay/good.
3: It may help to plan ahead, so you're not racking your brain trying to come up with something interesting.

     Also, if you have something you really need to talk to a parent about, make sure they're not busy. Use a calm voice, don't shout or mess around with tones. Make eye contact and explain everything clearly.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How to Talk About School: For Parents

You: "How was school today?"
Your teenager: "Okay."
Okay? you think. What kind of okay? Did something spectacular happen? Are you really depressed, but you don't want to talk about it? Why is this happening? Shouldn't they be able to talk to you about anything?
Here are a few tips from an "insider" (ooh, I like that. I feel sneaky and professional).
Three Things Not to Do:
1: Don't say "How was school today?" You've said that almost every day for years now, and chances are you always say it in the same tone of voice.
2: Don't ask about assignments or homework. How would you feel if your teenager came home and said, "Did you clean the kitchen today? How well did you clean it?"
3: Don't interrogate. "Who did you sit with at lunch? What did you talk about? Did you feel included? Do you think everybody else felt included? Which class do you have with that one kid again? And is Taylor in that class, too? Have you thought about sitting with Taylor instead? Who does Taylor sit with?"
It's not likely they'll remember that many details. And even if they do, their personal life is personal. You're a parent, not their personal assistant.
Three Things To Do:
1: Show interest. Some teenagers don't talk because they don't think you care about their classes or friend drama. "Was math class hard? How are things with Alex?"
2: Ask questions-don't make it a short, boring How was school/Good/That's good.
3: Remember that it's alright if they don't want to tell you everything. Some things, such as crushes, they feel more comfortable telling journals or friends.

     Also, talk about what's going on in your life. How was your day?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

NYRA Stands for Controversial Causes

     Back in March, I did a post on the National Youth Rights Association. I was serously considering joining until I realized I didn't agree with most of their ideas. For example, NYRA supports lowering the drinking age.
     Drinking destroys families. And brain cells. And cars. Especially when the drivers do not have as much experience.
     They also support lowering the driving age. Personally, I think that would be awesome, but I've waited over fourteen years for my liscense. I'm sure I can wait one month, three weeks, three days, one hour, and fifty-seven minutes more. Not that I'm counting.
     We have enough drivers as it is. Lowering the driving age would put more on the road, which would increase pollution (which makes the environment unhappy), traffic accidents (which make most people unhappy) and traffic (which makes me very, very unhappy when I'm late for my piano lesson and the cars ahead will. not. move!).
    I do, however, agree with them lowering the voting age to sixteen. Sixteen-year-olds pay sales and sometimes income tax, lose teachers and programs to budget cuts, and breath air polluted by cars and factories. Sure, not all teenagers would make smart votes, but not all adults do, either. I'm sure many adults would agree, say, 57%, which coincidentally is the percentage that dissaproves of Obama at the moment.
     All in all, NYRA has done a powerful job of uniting young people to stand up for what they believe in, no matter how well thought out those beliefe might be.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

9/11 Middle Schoolers Remembered

Bernard Curtis Brown II

Rodney Dickens

Asia Cottom

    Ten years and two days ago, an estimated 3,051 children and teenagers lost parents in the terrorist attacks. Three eleven-year-olds actually lost their lives. Asia Cottom, Bernard Curtis Brown, and Rodney Dickens of Washington, D.C. boarded Flight 77, the one that crashed into the pentagon. They were meant to go to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary for an educational field trip.
    Rodney grew up in a tough neighborhood, but he avoided trouble and worked hard. He loved reading, computer games, and watching wrestling matches on TV. He always made the honor roll and must have been exhilarated when he had the opportunity to go an this amazig sponsored field trip.
          Bernard played soccer and football, but his true love was basketball. He had been on teams since the age of seven. First thing on Saturday mornings, he would go out and shoot hoops. He always said he would play professionally someday. He was clever, the kind of kid who keeps teachers on their toes. That's why his teacher gave his name when asked who she thought deserved to go on a field trip. Bernard's father worked in the pentagon, but he was out golfing when the attacks occured.
         Asia loved purses, dancing, jump roping, science, math, and Tweety Bird. She wanted to be a peditrician when she grew up. She was interested in computers and wanted her classmates to learn as much about them as she did. Her teachers were challenged to help her expand her horizons. Asia was excited for her field trip and spent hours on the internet researching National Geographic. She was also enthusiastic about her faith. She studied the bible on her own and wrote notes on the more challenging passages. On the night after the crash, her mother told Asia's teacher, "Mrs. Jones, my baby got her wings today."
     Mrs. Jones responded,"We have to live right so we can get our wings when it is our time."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Children Around the World

     Photographer James Mollison captures the lives of children and teenagers around the world in his book, 'Where Children Sleep'. The book contains images of four- to seventeen-year-olds and pictures of their bedrooms. I won't add too much text, letting the photos speak for themselves.

Thais, 11, lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She wants to be a model when she grows up.  
 Image: Prena, 14, a domestic worker in Kathmandu, Nepal
Prena, 14, lives in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she works as a domestic worker. She makes the equivalent of $6.50 a month, goes to school three days a week, and dreams of being a doctor.

Lamine, 12, lives in Senegal. He spends many hours each day working on his school's farm, but he also has time to play sports with his friends. This is one of my favorite photos because you can see books in it.

Kaya, 4, lives in Tokyo, Japan. Her mother spends over $1,000 a month on her clothes and toys.

Irkena, 14, lives in a semi-nomadic tribe in Kenya.