By John Gardner
Adults who are afraid of teenagers or who feel like teens of today are nothing like those from their day (adults have been saying that forever, right?) ….. or who think the quality of teens is crumbling….. should come hang out with the teens I get to spend time with.
As a teacher, I can’t use the “love” word, must avoid the “creepy” label (they DO use that word too much), have to be careful how I compliment the way someone looks, and often settle for handshakes and high fives when a good pat on the back or a hug seems so much more appropriate for the circumstance …. but I thoroughly enjoy my time on the school clock. I LOVE the youthful enthusiasm. I ADMIRE their dreams, goals and aspirations. And I RESPECT those who make the best of their circumstances as they strive for excellence. I am all about encouraging achievers and I think it is because they recognize that, that they allow me into their lives. I “love” this job AND these teens.
My response to the parent who asked recently, “How do you put up with a room FULL of teenagers?” is “I feel sorry for those who DON’T get to experience a room FULL of teenagers.”
Some of the “types” of teens I admire…. (first in a series)
I admire teens who thrive because of their parents… Band students have complicated schedules that can challenge parental patience. There is the expense of instruments and extras (reeds, valve oil, drum sticks) — not to mention private lessons, summer camps, etc. Vacations get adjusted and, especially until the teen can drive, there are countless trips to drop off and pick up.
Some parents sacrifice soooo much in time, energy and money so that their teen can focus on being a better student, athlete, musician, academic or whatever. But all of that is for naught if the teen doesn’t take advantage of it. I admire teens who appreciate what they have and commit themselves to “getting their parents’ money’s worth”.
I admire teens who thrive in spite of their parents.
I was outside Door 34 prior to a rehearsal when she jumped out of the car and ran up to me, crying and wiping tears from her eyes, “G… I’m sorry…..I’m so sorry.” As she ran off into the building I got the impact of her emotion when I saw the approaching papa angrily waving a copy of our schedule.
Additional random examples….
“We’re going to pull our son out of band…..his room is a mess.”
“I can’t come to band today. I’m grounded and part of my punishment is whatever consequence I get from you for not being here.”
” He really loves band…..which is why this has to be part of his punishment.”
“She can’t major in color guard in college….so there is no point in the expense for her to be in this activity.”
“My parents took my band card money and my paycheck money. What do I do?”
“Here’s my paycheck to pay you back for letting me go to Disney. I will be able to pay you back from my job over the next three months.” (And did.)
“I have to stop taking private lessons because my dad says if I have money to waste on music lessons that I can pay rent.”
“G, I just got kicked out of my house.”
“Why are you telling my kid (s)he needs extra money for music lessons? Aren’t you the teacher? Why don’t you do what you’re getting paid for?”
“Why should I buy another [instrument]? I bought the one they told me to buy when (s)he started.”
Some of the most determined to succeed band students have parents I never meet. I understand busy and I understand the struggles of single parenthood (there were five kids in my single parent home) and it can be hard….yes, it can be hard. But it is sad sometimes to watch students try not to show disappointment when the parent is not there…. just sayin’.
I admire students who, despite the potential negatives of their circumstances…..are determined to succeed…..
….to be continued