I love teenagers! It's true. You think I am being facetious....but no my friends. I love them. I love the drama. I love their 'all about me' attitudes. I remember my friends and family telling me that their least favorite time in life was middle school. Middle school for me was an outrageously fun time. I had the best group of friends a girl could hope for. Was there drama, you betchya, but the good memories often trump the bad.
Over the past year, whether presenting in the classroom or working as a tutor, I have had the opportunity to work with middle-schoolers. I find that I get along with the 'hoodlums' the most. I recently had a conversation with one of my little middle-school friends who told me how she got into trouble a lot. We talked about what she was doing that got her into trouble. She explained some situations to me and I couldn't help but smile. You see, my little friend was 'labeled' as the trouble-maker way back in the day. I noticed that once kids are labeled in school, it follows them until graduation. She told me that she is not afraid to let teachers know what she is thinking all the time, and that her teachers send her to the principals office all the time because of it. So, one day she said something that offended one of her teachers. She was asked to write an apology that I needed to help her with. As I am trying to be the adult in the situation, I found myself siding against the teacher.
In the long run, I let my teenager friend know that it was easier for me to go to school when I was nice to my teachers. My friend said, "Yeah, but I can't do that!" When I asked why, she said, "It will ruin my reputation!" I looked at her and started laughing. "Your REP....puuuullllleeeeease." We laughed and laughed about it.
At the end of my 'mentoring' conversation, we drafted this really awesome letter to the teacher conveying an apology, but also conveying that my friend didn't know what she said was offensive. Without being defensive, my friend was able to demonstrate that she was not so much 'obstinate,' as she has been labeled, but more 'aware' that there were cultural and age differences between her and the teacher that contributed to an overall misunderstanding. In this situation, I saw the maturity of my young friend...and often do when I get to work with the 'hoodlums'.
I LOVE teenagers!