Saturday, December 29, 2012

Phone Etiquette: Teens vs. Adults

Yesterday I went to see Les Miserables with my friends. It's an incredible movie. You need to see it if you haven't already. But please, parents, don't bring your children. I saw kids young as eight being lead into the theater. It's rated PG-13 for a reason. But besides that...
Gun fights! Sword fights! Unrequited love! Barricades! Escaped prisoners! Tragic death scenes! Forty nine musical numbers!
The woman sitting next to us texted through the whole thing.
If you're going to pay $6.25 you may as well watch it.
I hate people who text during movies, whether it's playing in the theater or my basement. The room's almost completely dark. Do you really think we can't see the little blue light popping up? You could at least hide it.
Any teenager knows the rules of phone etiquette. Maybe it's because we've grown up with movie theater commercials telling us to please turn off any electronic devices.
We hold our phones in our laps. If we can't do that, we hold them level with our rib cages. But not before we locate a backpack, desk, or unwitting friend to shield them from view. That's common sense in high school.
Then I see adults who like to hold them at neck level. Maybe they're trying to read the tiny words. Most phones have a zoom function, but no I understand if some people haven't figured out how to use it yet.
Leaning forward, however, is a practical skill I encourage everybody to master before reaching the age of two.

Seems like he's got it down already.
I can't be too hasty to judge here. Cell phones are a fairly recent invention. Don't say we've grown up with them. I hate that. I grew up with  TV, yes, and computer games, but I didn't see anybody send a text until I was nine. Our parents owned cell phones first and we learned by observing them. By the time we got our first phones, we had a general idea of what to do with it.
We don't need to be taught phone etiquette. We're inventing it. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

That Christmas Feeling

I saw a newspaper article today about religion in schools. Namely, should elementary schools be allowed to sing religious songs for Christmas? It got me thinking. Religion is usually a taboo in school. We study it in high school in World Religions and any AP social studies class. And of course, you have to talk about Judaism when learning about World War II. But as a personal, here and now thing, you're not supposed to bring it up. Especially if you're Christian. Never mind that 78% of America is as well.
When is was in sixth grade we had a musical program with the theme of friendship. There was one song, I can't remember the title, but it inclued the phrase 'we pray'. After a week of practicing, our teacher crossed it out and wrote 'hope' above it. I can't imagine who that would offend. All religions pray to something.
And then there was our annual Christmas program. We sang about reindeers, Santa, and giving gifts. One year we sang the dreidel song. As far as I know, nobody in our class was Jewish. But nobody minded. I know we sang 'Do You See What I See?' one year. The whole thing's about the nativity. I thought it was strange that we'd be allowed to sing about religion in school, but I never heard anybody complain.
My mother lived in Iran for a year as a child. She went to an American school, where they got days off for both Christmas and Ramadan, and learned to sing 'Silent Night' in Farsi.
There are plenty of people who don't have a religion. Lots of them celebrate Christmas anyways just so they can exchange gifts. And then there are atheists. Poor atheists. They have no holidays.
You can debate about it all you want, but no matter how commercialized and popularized it becomes, Christmas will always be a religious holiday.
"It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself."
-Charles Dickens

Friday, December 21, 2012

We Are Awesome

Normally I try to avoid talking about my personal life. Honestly, it's not that interesting. But now it's time to brag.
This is my school.

We get really into the idea of Christmas spirit. It's more of an obsession, really. Every year we pick a charity. And by pick, I mean they send us applications. We've raised about $800,000 since we opened in 1999.
This year's cause, as you can tell from the top, was the Haley Bell Blessed Chair Foundation. We've spent the last eighteen days doing absolutely everything we could to raise money. We went door to door doing odd jobs. Collin Raye flew out from Nashville to do a benefit concert. Two boys had people sponsor their marathon through a foot of snow.
The grand total: $125,084.13.
Well, we call it Silver Rush for a reason. This from 2,000 high school students in a little over two weeks.
We. Are. Awesome.
That's all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Times Change, Minds Change

I was doing some homework for my history class tonight when I came across this little tidbit:
In 1833, children under the age of nine were forbidden from working in underground mines. Workdays for children between the ages of nine and thirteen were limited to nine hours a day.
My thought process went something like this:
1. Underground mines? Are there any other kind?
2. Nine? That's Weston's age!
3. Wait a second, I've read this before.
Back in fourth grade, I did my History Fair project on child labor laws. It was the most intense research project I'd done up to that point. I read through books and articles and looked at pictures like these:
Miners on break.
Miners at work. They were my age.

                                    Now I'm this age.

I was ten, reading about ten year olds working in mines. And it didn't really affect me. I was greatful I didn't have to live like that, of course. But it was a specific problem belonging to that kid in that picture. I'd think, "That's horrible for them." Not, "That's horrible. How could they do that to little kids?"
At age ten, I would read this and think of people. Now I'm sixteen and think of my little brother.
Of course, there is still child labor going on in the world. And child massacres, child slavery, and child abuse, and child prostitution, earthquakes that injure children...the list marches on. There have always been problems in the world. There are no good old days. There is no tragic past to shadow the bright future. It's all life and life marches on.
When we get older, the rift between 'us' and 'them' gets wider. We don't see them quite as people anymore. Every new story of the horrors inflicted on children cuts us, more so than the daily stream of murders and car bombings we see on TV each day. We pity them and want to reach out.
But we loose that understanding of what exactly it's like to be young.
So many people think children are unaffected. That when a tragedy happens, they'll be sitting on the couch, staring blankly at the screen as they ask their parents questions. Why did somebody do that? How could this happen?
But aren't adults asking the same questions?
The truth is, children have a unique capacity to view everyone equally. Hearing about kids getting shot in a Connecticut school feels the same as adults shot at a movie theater in Colorado.
And don't they get the same answers?
I don't know, sweetie. I just don't know.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Best Advice I Can Give

When I was eight, my mom bought a book called The Parenting Breakthrough. The cover looked like this:

I picked it up partly because I kept seeing it lying around the house and partly because I wanted to know what she was plotting. It actually ended up becoming one of my favorite books. I read it until the cover curled and I could paraphrase entire sections.
Yeah, I was a weird eight year old. Esme, you're not allowed to leave a comment.
I still read any article I see on raising teenagers. It's fascinating to see the other side of things (and, of course, know what they're plotting). There are hundreds of parenting books out there, all of them written by adults, parents and psychologists, people with experience.
There have been days I thought I could write an entire book telling parents what to do. But actually, I think I can get it down to a few sentences.
This first one is the simplified, polite version that sounds like something you'd put on an inspirational plaque:
Listen and be there for them when they need you.
Here's the blunt honesty, euphemism free, real life head on version:
Be there. Teach them to fly but wait to catch them when they fall. And listen- especially when they tell you to shut up and go away. There's so much inside them when they say this that trying to dig in will only make things horrible worse. But when you do shut up and go away, wait and watch from a safe distance. You need to be there for them if only for them to push you away.

They're the same, really, but pick whichever one makes you feel better.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Five Good Answers

Election Day has finally arrived. You know what that means: the annoying phone calls are over at last. I've seen plenty of teenagers at my high school walking around with slogan shirts hoping to sway over a few seniors. Hardly any of them can vote anyways because the election happens to fall in November. It makes me wish we could lower the voting age to sixteen. I wouldn't be able to vote then anyways. My birthday is four days after this election. I won't be able to vote my senior year either. I'll miss it by a week. But I don't support it just because I want my own voice to be heard, there's a whole world out there.
Of course, whenever I mention that, I brace myself for a half hearted put down too doubtful to even be called an argument. They usually go one of five ways:
"Sixteen year olds aren't mature enough to vote."
And that's going to change with two years? Is a thirty seven year old more mature than a thirty five year old? A little, perhaps, but does anybody care?
That's the same argument they used in 1971 when Congress was debating lowering the age from twenty one to eighteen. It dropped three whole years. Gasp. Did they ruin the country?
"They'll just vote stupidly."
And what, tell me, is a stupid vote? Was it stupid for the democrats to put Obama in office? For republicans to elect Bush?
"I mean, they'll just vote for whoever their parents want."
Ah, the family argument again. Congress decided to ignore that back in 1920. Ever since then, we've had legions of female voters giving their husbands an extra vote. What a mistake. Let's make that same mistake again.
"It doesn't affect you anyways."
I want to laugh at this one. At sixteen, aren't we driving and working and paying income taxes? And even before then, are our parents getting laid off? Does a ten year old leukemia patient know anything about health care? Maybe she doesn't understand all the political technicalities, but she knows how the treatments and bills feel. That's enough to have an opinion.
But say you're right. Sixteen and seventeen year olds are completely unaffected by the state of the world. Adults elect a president for them. A year or two after that, they're moving out. Going to college. Working. Some of them getting married. Serving in the military. Twenty and twenty one. 
Are they affected now?
"You'll be old enough in a few years anyways."
Yes. And there will always be somebody younger than me.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fruit, Glorious Fruit

I'm standing in the deli sandwich line behind my gym teacher. He grabs a milk and the lunch lady informs him that he needs to grab a fruit or vegetable with his lunch. Being the type of man he is, he declares, "Michelle Obama freakin' sucks! She sucks, man!"
For all that hoopla about whether or not we could use a new president, we could really use a new first lady, politics aside. All first ladies have a pet cause. I can't tell yet what Ann Romney's would be, but she probably won't try to be another Patroness of the Organic Carrot Sticks.
"Why, I seem to have wandered into a kitchen full of Disney Channel icons. And on the other side of the country, too! Why am I here? Preteens can't vote. Oh well, I might as well supervise the preperation of a properly balanced snack. Watch me. parents."
I'm not quite sure Michelle Obama is actually the one behind our school's fruit or nothing policy. Buy a fruit or you don't get lunch. I've heard it's all because of The State or The District or The Obscure Yet Powerful Committee that Makes These Kind of  Decisions.
Today, my deli sandwich included lettuce, olives, onions, cucumbers, and a tomato slice. They had chocolate pudding with whipped cream for once, so I put that on my plate. Chocolate isn't a fruit, so I grabbed some raspberry yogurt to go along with it.
I slide my meal up to the cashier and she tells me, "You have to grab a fruit."
"I did," I told her, holding up the yogurt in case she didn't see it.
"That's not a fruit. You have to grab something from the first tray."
I had four vegetables and one...whatever a tomato is on my plate, but I couldn't argue it out because there was a line behind me. So I swapped the yogurt for some unripe kiwi, paid, and left.
I do like fruit. Just not all cafeteria fruit. The peaches are good when they aren't too hard. Same with the pears. Kiwi's usually good, but I'm never sure how you're supposed to eat it. Fork? Spoon? Teeth?
But some people just want their chicken nuggets with chocolate milk. They grab a fruit at random, keep it on their tray, and throw it away as they walk out the door. The applesauce and oranges are gone and they find themselves left with the sliced tomatoes in a cup. Which also get tossed away. Or this little wilted salad, the kind that comes in a sealed plastic bag and consists solely of lettuce and shredded carrot strips. The lettuce looks like plastic, feels like plastic, and almost smells like plastic. Guess how it tastes.
No doubt the person/persons who make such decisions study them out very well. From behind a clipboard. They look up suggested daily calorie intake for our age group. They calculate exercise time (never mind we don't have recess anymore). They check their budget. They examine the food pyramid or that new revised food chart.
This is the food pyramid I grew up with. Nothing seems to be wrong with it.
But of course, exercise is important as well.
At last, some Harvard has corrected us all. Food comes on plates. Not pyramids.
These  whip up an all inclusive meal plan, congratulate themselves on bettering our little lives, and celebrate by going out to Olive Garden.
They can't be tasting these chicken nuggets (rumored to be 70% filler meat), sweet potato fries (they're healthier. And oranger), or the pathetically small sandwich bread (you can't bite into it without all the lettuce spilling out. Sandwiches shouldn't be a fork food). I showed it to a friend of mine who had never set foot in the cafeteria. She preferred to eat her home lunch out in the hall.
She thought it was a hotdog bun.
I can't be the only one who occasionally feels like this:

But then, I guess I'm just picky. And fat. All teenagers are these days. But can you really blame us? We have whole committees catering to our every need.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Forever Young? Not Quite.

What's wrong with this picture?
This is Brooke Greenberg. She's sixteen in this picture, nineteen now. She and her younger sister Carly live in Maryland with their parents, where Brooke enjoys watching TV and shopping.
Oh, and she's the one on the left. Carly's the thirteen year old holding her.
Confused? So is the medical world.
Her hair and fingernails grow like everyone else's, but she has the bone structure of a ten year old, baby teeth like a first grader, and her brain hasn't developed any more than the average baby. She didn't seem too different from the average baby at birth, aside from being born one month early by C-section. She was somewhat underweight, four pounds and one ounce, but I weighed less than that and I'm a normal teenager. Brooke had seven stomach ulcers, a seizure, and a stroke all before the age of four. When she had a brain tumor, her parents bought a casket. But Brooke survived.
Now she's 16 pounds and stands at 2' 6" (76.2 cm). She goes to a special needs school, pushing a miniature walker through the halls. Her mom takes her around the mall in a stroller. Other moms with their toddlers ask how old she is. How do you explain that to a casual stranger? Ms. Greenberg divides her age by twelve. The other mother's accept her age as nineteen months and go on with their lives.
Some scientists see Brooke as a fountain of youth and want to run tests. But really, would you want to be that young forever? I've heard too many parents lamenting about how their children have to grow up. Can't stay innocent and oblivious forever. And I've heard a lot of teenagers wish for the same thing. You never realize just how good your childhood is until you lose it.
But even though Brooke won't be going out to wild parties with stupid boys, even though she'll never have to stress her way through college and pay her own bills, she'll never be able to fully appreciate her youth either.
Maybe growing up isn't such a bad thing after all. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Banned? Don't Bother.

It's the kind of thing that only really happens in New York. Every day before school, teenagers line up and wait for a van parked on the street corner to take their phones and iPods. They pay, go through the school day, and return in the afternoon to reclaim their electronics.
It costs a dollar a day-$180 over the school year-ingenious on the valet's part. Convenient on the teenager's part. Unless you're one of the two hundred students who lost their phones when a van was held up.
Now, why don't they simply set them on silent and shove them in their backpacks? That's what I do. But then, my school doesn't have metal detectors. They're meant to guard against students bringing weapons to school, but phones and iPods also show up. So why not confiscate them while they're at it?
Cell phones are an issue. Everybody's heard that before. Cyberbullying, inappropriate pictures, but you can do those from your own bedroom if you're that type of person. Really, the only problems they present uniquely to school are distraction and cheating. But so long as there are friends to talk with, paper to doodle on, books to read, and windows to stare out, banning phones won't perfect anything.
I take my phone to school everyday. It's a lifesaver whenever a leave an important folder at home. Or when I leave an unnecessary folder at home and my mom wonders if she needs to drive it to school for me. Or when I'm staying after school and we both need to know each other's schedules.
I've taken my iPod to school...let's see...four times. The first time I needed it for an assignment. Naturally, I lost it that first day, recovered it shortly after, and kept it at home for the next year and a half out of paranoia. Just last week I went on a vacation to New York and took a ridiculous number of pictures (no, not that one up top, I had to borrow that from google images). So I took my iPod to school to show my friends.
The electronic valet idea has yet to catch on outside of New York City. But I can imagine obsessive schools creating some sort of phone check-in lockers. They'd be completely pointless, along with all other attempts to ban electronics. School rules generally only work out on paper.
 If we want to bring them, we will.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Practicing and Procrastinating


There are two types of teenagers in the world.
1. The practicers. They wake up, go to school, and then stay after school for practice. Football. Marching band. Cheer. Theater. Basketball. Softball. Orchestra. Then they go home and get started on their homework. It's late when they finish and finally get the chance to shower. And then sleep. Or possibly, sleep in the shower. I know athletes who have done this.
It's an exhausting life, but at least it looks good on college applications.
2: The procrastinators. They wake up, go to school, go home, and relax for a little while. They read books, watch TV, listen to music, practice guitar, shoot some hoops in the drive way. Then they remember homework and stay up late doing it, partly because they're distracted by the internet. Then they fall asleep for six or seven hours, wake up, and it all starts over again.
They're called procrastinators because curling up on the couch with a good fantasy novel won't impress colleges.
Some practicers will fall into the second category once football season's over. And then everybody takes some time off to hang out with friends. But really, that's how the average student life passes.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Adults Speaking

It's amazing what you hear if you stop talking for a minute and listen to your own conversation. Do adults know how they sound when they talk?
 I don't know why, but adults, specifically adult women, feel obliged to laugh every thirty seconds during an unremarkable conversation with a teenager. This usually happens when you don't know the woman-she's your mom's friend, an aunt you rarely see, somebody who moved out of your neighborhood years ago but knew you as a toddler.
First they'll run through what I like to call the grandparent questions.
"How are you?"
"How old are you now?"
"So that means you're in...which grade?"
"What school do you go to?"
"Do you like it?"
"What's your favorite class?"
Then they'll ask about your one hobby. It doesn't matter how many hobbies you have, or even if you're no longer interested in that hobby. They know you as the girl who dances or the boy who plays football, and they'll ask how that is going.
So in other words, small talk. The conversation continues to be dry as you move towards a real subject. In effort to salvage it, she'll laugh at anything you say. Sometimes this is an awkward laugh because you haven't answered the questions right.
"No, I'm fifteen, not thirteen, and that means I'm a sophomore, not a ninth grader."
"All my classes are boring."
"What have I been doing lately? Homework, mostly. And sleeping when I can squeeze it in."
Blunt honesty doesn't bode well. So they decide you're being funny. Or you're trying to be funny but you're not a particularly brilliant person, so they laugh out of pity. Or you're being sarcastic, as all teenagers are, and they just accept it.  You can tell them the bland facts of life like-
"Is it 9:30 already? I'd better get home and eat dinner."
"You haven't eaten dinner yet?"
 "No. My parents are on a date, so they just told me to microwave some leftover pizza when I got hungry."
"But aren't you hungry by now?"
"How can anybody be hungry for microwaved leftover pizza before they have to be?"
-and then they laugh.
Did I miss something here?

Monday, September 17, 2012

No Wonder He's Wonderful

"Too many people grow up. That's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don't remember what it's like to be 12 years old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors. Well I won't do that."
-Walt Disney
I love this quote. It sums up almost everything I've ever wanted to say about youth. With an outlook like that, it's no wonder Disney was able to create the best children's shows in the history of motion pictures. If only more people could see the world the way be did. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

From Troubled to Bubbled

I've heard countless complaints on how teenagers these days are pathetic wimps who don't know how to work. It gets annoying. All that whining, and yet the complainers can't be bothered to look into why youth works the way it does today.
At first, childhood was like the picture above. Children dressed like adults, worked like adults, and faced the consequences of adulthood. Back in the middle ages, you could be hanged for theivery at the ripe old age of seven (Oh, but surely they never enforced that. All children were angels back in the day). Toddlers drank weak bear because the water wasn't clean. Girls were married in their teens. And of course, there was also time for play.                                                                           
Time passed. Generations rose and fell. Then came the Revolution. The Industrial one. Families moved from farms to cities. Kids still worked, but now there were factories.
14 hour days? Typical. Street orphans? Common as gutter trash. Many of them resorted to crime to make a living. Yes, they had seven year old thieves back then too.
Then came the reformers. Some were young strikers. Others men like Lewis Hine, who went undercover to take those two factory photos. "That's right, Mr. Factory Owner sir. I'm here to photograph the machinery. Now stand that little girl up against that big hulk of metal over there so they can tell how big it is."
And a lot of them were women-usually rich women-with their newfangled notions. Like females voting. They also pushed for the child's right to a childhood. The right to not work 14 hours in a dusty, smoky factory. The right to a proper home. The right to safety. The right to an education.
After a while, their ideas started to catch on. Child labor laws were passed and virtually ignored until the Great Depression when the adults really needed the jobs.
Children began to be protected. Sheltered. Pampered. And somewhere along the line, society forgot that a seven year old used to be old enough for the fields and factories and gallows. Now that's responsibility. They abided to the new rules until the world became the way it is today.
Children under twelve have their own menus in restaurants. That way they won't have to eat grown-up food. And when they're done with those chicken nuggets, they can play in the restaurant's play area. So long as they play the right way. No scaling the outside of the slide.

Forget rag dolls and sticks to amuse them. They can have toys, hundreds of them!
And they can sit in front of the TV to watch educational television. Preschool just isn't hardcore enough. They need to be studying the alphabet, the shapes, the colors, basic science, and a few random words in foreign languages during every spare moment.
Eventually, they'll realize these shows are pretty stupid and preachy. They'll graduate to sitcoms directed at tweens, always with a moral following the zany scheme. Don't sneak out of the house in the middle of the night and go to a party. Don't lie to your friends. Don't cheat on a test. Don't fall for the wrong guy.
And thank you, beloved sponsors, for allowing us to broadcast these delightful shows in sixteen different languages! Now buy their products. And while you're buying those, buy our stuff too!
Fellow 14-year-olds on a shirt
Carry a backpack with the name of a school you've never seen and students who don't exist.

Play and education are both such crucial things, why not smush them together? Have babies shove green square pegs into green square holes. If you're putting together an animal puzzle, have the animals hold up cards with the letters of the alphabet.
And then if they really can't think of a way to attach it to the stuff you learn in elementary school, they'll throw out the mental terms just to remind you how important development is.
Sharing practice! Reasoning skills! Problem solving! Social language! Self esteem! Overall growth and development! Don't let today's generation become disadvantaged in the global economy!
Seriously. I have seen that last one used.
So, has the world grown to cater to children? They do get specialized food, clothes, and media. 
But no voice. 
There's an old saying some people still use-"Hire a young carpenter but an old physician." That pretty much sums up how people looked at youth centuries ago. Not the wisest they'll ever be, but strong and hardy, perfect for manual labor. Instead of miniature adults, children are now supposed to be unformed adults. Undeveloped. Immature. Irresponsible. Everything positive with a negative prefix shoved onto the front. 
The toys and menus are outgrown. But even as teenagers, we're classified as "young". Vulnerable. Defiant. At risk, every one of us, because this gritty world is so different from the one our ancestors grew up in. 
Next time you're about to launch into that same tired rant about the imperfections of teenagers these days, stop. Think. Is the world really better? Different, yes, but better? In what way?
What did you do as a teenager? Would you like to go back?
"Just look around at the world we're inheriting
And think of the one we'll create."
-Newsies, Broadway version

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More Movies

Young adult literature has come a long way. Teen music, on the other hand, has started to diminish. Justin Bieber and anybody from Disney have fans more in their tweens. We're right in the middle, so we just listen to whatever we want. The same goes for TV shows, only not as many people can tolerate cheesy Disney Channel shows past the age of thirteen. The internet is anybody's game.
What's left? Movies. I cannot not name a single good movie written for teenagers. I think I can sum them all up for you. Let's see...Outcast Kid lives life at the bottom of the high school popularity ladder with a small but loyal group of friends. Two of them, usually. Outcast is constantly bullies by Jock (if male) or School Diva (if female). They quietly crush on Jock (if female) or School Diva (if male) but don't dare talk to said crush because he/she is dating a horribly wrong, horribly attractive person.
Bells ring exactly when you need them to, cafeteria lunch consists largely of mystery meat, and everybody has enough time in between class to act out entire scenes in front of the lockers.
With a sudden twist of fate, Outcast is propeled to the top of the food chain and gets their dream date. Not surprisingly, Jock or Diva turns out to be a jerk. Outcast realizes they were actually in love with their best friend all along and everything works out perfectly by prom.
How did I do?
Sadly, most teen movies are horrible. Book adaptions are exceptions. But even those tend to fail miserably.

But not all of them do. Some become cult classics and you either love or hate.

Let's face it. Young adult literature isn't strictly for teenagers. Adults saw those too.
So what do we watch? Lots of kids movies. Many of these are adaptions as well.

And then the normal, adult movies.

What do you see here? More adaptions. Is anybody original? Yes, Disney, I'm looking at you.
Come to think of it, all superhero movies are based off other superhero movies, which were based on comics. And who were the comic books written for? Kids. Of course, nobody reads those now. Just graphic novels and manga.
And then all big movies are rated PG-13 or R, so younger, Batman adoring audiences can't see them. Adults seem to have forgotten what it's like to be too young for a movie. You think they'd make things kid enjoy, like Spiderman, into movies they're allowed to watch.
And who picked 13 and 17 for the cutoff dates? I've looked over rating systems used around the world. 12 and 16 are popular numbers. At least America's system isn't complicated. Some countries have up to four different classifications between 10 to 18. Most countries, including America, are supposed to check for identification. But I've never had to that for a PG-13 movie, even though I've always looked three years younger than my actual age and I usually go to movies with friends a grade or two below me.
Some so called "teen movies" have no teenagers at all. Jennifer Lawrence is 21, five years older than Katniss. But Suzanne Collins selected her so I have no problem with that. Robert Pattison is 26, which is actually young for Edward's 107. But then we have actors like Cory Monteith from Glee, age 30. Jason Earles from Hannah Montana played Jackson while he was 34. That's old enough to have your own teenagers. Grow up already.
With stuff like this made for us, is it any wonder we stick to the "normal" movies?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hello, My Name is Not a Deadly Weapon

Note: This article does not pertain specifically to teenagers, but focuses on the rights of a child. And that's what I'm for, not just teenagers, but all young people. So please temporarily ignore the name of my blog.
This is the letter 'H' in American Sign Language.

H is the first letter of the word 'hunter'. A hunter is somebody who goes out into the wild and shoots deer.

It's also a given name. This is Hunter Spanjer, age three. He's deaf.

Naturally, most deaf people don't want to spell out their entire names. So they come up with a sign that represents them, usually some variation on the first and last letters. This is the letter R:

Hunter crosses his forefinger and middle finger and waves them around. That's the name he's used ever since he was six months old.
Which looks kind of like a gun. Fitting. This way, I think, will help people remember he's not Harlan or Howard or some other name. If he didn't cross his fingers, it would look even more like a gun.
The preschool's zero tolerance policy doesn't care. It remotely resembles a gun, so it's a violation. The school told him to change his name. His family is taking legal action to prevent that.
You know people are idiots when they can't even see the reasons behind their own policies. You cannot shoot anybody with a finger. Poke them, yes, whether your name's Hunter or Holly or Egbert.
What's really sad is people are having to justify it. "Oh, he's only three and a half. He doesn't know it looks threatening." "But that sign is registered with Signing Exact English." "But schools are supposed to protect freedom of speech."
How about this: Hunter's name is a name. I've met other Hunters, I've seen Talon and Battle used as first names. Mankiller, Archer, Knight, Kilpack, Butcher, Loveless, Diebold, and Bloodworth are all surnames. None of them have ever been banned to my knowledge. So why start now?