Why can’t kids today be more like us?
What’s a matter with these kids today? Are they stupid? How could they think they could light a bonfire when people’s houses are burning down all over the state? It must be the nasty music they listen to that causes their brains to rot. I wish they were more like my generation. When I was their age, I smoked, drank, sometimes ran wild and did plenty of stupid things.
Oooooops. I didn’t mean to write that. I meant to say that when I was a teen-ager, I spent my time in church praying for guidance, but in reality I spent most of Sunday Mass checking out the girls.
When did my generation get so crotchety? When did we start sounding like stereotypical parents or grandparents? For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been subjected to adults verbally abusing just about every teen-ager living in and out of Summit County because of the actions of a few mentally deficient teens. Granted, the teens who started the fire near Bailey by smoking behind the school and the teens who started the bonfire near Swan Mountain Road didn’t do their peers any favors. Still, I’m thinking many of the adults’ opinions of teen-agers stem from a slightly skewed memory of their own youth.
Many people belonging to my vintage either have forgotten or deliberately blocked out their entire teen-age years, and therefore truly believe they were perfect kids. They remember being little angels sent from heaven to bless their parents with joy and comfort. Yeah. Right. Unfortunately for me, however, I’ve never been afforded the luxury of forgetfulness. I have a vivid memory of my teen years as they truly were, and I distinctly remember the many stupid things I did in my youth.
I remember racing trains in my father’s Camaro, smoking cigarettes in the woods near my house, shoplifting from the local market and committing a little vandalism on the side. I also recall a few drunken bashes in high school that involved some nudity that I just don’t want to talk about. And still, I was basically a good – albeit sometimes incredibly stupid – kid, and I turned into an upstanding citizen. Well, as upstanding as a columnist can actually be and still keep his job.
Now, I’m not saying the teen-agers who started the fire near Bailey or the ones who attempted to burn down Swan Mountain – and Summit County in the process – shouldn’t be prosecuted, but I am saying the adults who are complaining about kids today should take a trip down memory lane and revisit the darker side of their teen-age years.
After returning from such a journey, they might be a little more inclined to see teen-agers as they truly are, which is just like us. Teen-agers are good and bad, rude and courteous, grumpy and friendly, scared and brave and, on occasion, idiots. They are a lot like the adults I’ve known. After all, I’ve seen plenty of adults toss smoldering cigarette butts out of car windows, and we should know better.
We should remember that even though there were 10 brain-dead teen-agers at the bonfire in Summit County having a good old time, there were also several hundred teens at home snug in their beds. All in all, the percentage of intelligent kids far outweighs the dunces. Which just goes to show that maybe kids today are a lot more like our generation than we’d like to believe.
Andrew Gmerek is a weekly columnist for the Summit Daily News.
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