November 22, 2006

Rebel With A Backpack

I love these articles. Trying to explain why teenagers do stupid things. Lately, I'd prefer articles explaining why adults do stupid things, like paying O.J. Simpson instead of just shooting him, but I digress.

Newsweek does some scientific voodoo, and dispels some myths ('teenagers can't compute consequences') and creates some new ones ('they just don't care'). Unlike many mothers I know, I actually want my kids to get into a certain amount of trouble. I figure if I don't know about any trouble they're getting into, it means they're doing some pretty bad stuff. Because rest assured - they are going to get into trouble.

Trouble makes us who we are. Doing bad things eventually makes us want to do better things. Being hungover often enough should make the thinking members of our society want to avoid that particular anvil-to-the-head feeling. Crashing your car repeatedly for speeding should lighten your lead foot. Teenagehood is largely an electrified fence, where you find out which points to stop bouncing off of to make the pain stop.

I know, I know...doesn't work for everyone. But that's just so we can keep Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer in business. We need to have people we can feel superior to, so we can take some solace in the fact that we get very boring.

My sons are smart enough to know right from wrong. And I know they will still choose wrong. It's like a wet paint sign - you still have to touch the damned stuff, and you know what? I like that they find out for themselves. I don't want little autobots that mindlessly do what they're told without asking questions, without pushing against the fence a little.

The only way I could make my 15-year-old consistently do what he's supposed to would be if I could fit into his backpack. But he's not a dog on a leash - he's a kid who needs to learn for himself how to make decisions, or else he'll live at home forever.

Or at least until he marries someone who fits in his backpack.


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