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?