This I Have Learned…

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

Have you had any conversations with a teenager lately? Is it even possible to do so, what with all of the electronic devices that take center stage in their lives? It’s amazing how these young, wordless youth get along in life, for their lives are so…preoccupied. Over the millennium there has been quite a bit written and discussed about youth. Here are some apropos references on the topic.

“Kids, I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today.

Kids, who can understand anything they say?

Kids, they are disobedient, disrespectful oafs.

Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy, loafers…

And while we’re on the subject…

Kids, you can talk and talk till your face is blue.

Kids, but they still do just what they want to do.

Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way?

What’s the matter with kids today?”

Source: Bye, Bye Birdie (1963)

And, to be sure, the modern notion that the youth of our society are lazy and out of sync with their superiors is nothing new in the annals of history. Machiavelli believed that a decadence infested Florence during the 16th Century. He wrote:

The youth, having become more dissolute than before, more extravagant in dress, feasting, and other licentiousness, and being without employment, wasted their time and means on gaming and women, their principal study being how to appear splendid in apparel and attain a crafty shrewdness in discourse.

Source: Leonardo de Vinci, by Walter Isaacson

Stephen King, author, had a different, more poignant take on teenagers.

“You know, small children take it as a matter of course that things will change every day and grown-ups understand that things change sooner or later and their job is to keep them from changing as long as possible. It’s only kids in high school who are convinced they’re never going to change. There’s always going to be a pep rally and there’s always going to be a spectator bus, somewhere out there in their future.”

Oscar Wilde, author, succinctly captured the essence of being a know-it-all teenager:

“In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.”

But this gem, like the professor in The Wizard of Oz when the curtain is pulled back, illustrates how we somewhat emerge from our teenage lives, after our own curtains are pulled back.”

“We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.” – Bryan White, Singer and Song Writer

And leave it to Erma Bombeck to say what adults think about teenager drivers.

“Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.”

Don’t lose hope, however. According to the author Pearl S. Buck:

“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible — and achieve it, generation after generation.”

And, this, of course, I have learned…