Did I mention I chewed my nails, backcombed my hair and daydreamed almost solely about a certain young man named Brooks? Ok, perhaps occasionally about the cute security guard at the downtown McDonald's. My high school career in a nutshell. A very insignificant, useless nutshell.
Tabitha Southeby's recent Globe and Mail article, Quit it with the teen trashing ("and so I salute you, sedentary youth of Canada"), reminds me to do what I had fully intended to at the end of summer '09: commend and compliment BC's youth. No nail-biting, back-combing, wasteful daydreams for them. They own the podium, every podium, from sports to environmentalism to academia to local and global leadership to technology to well, virtually everything. Today's youth are stronger, higher, faster than my sad-sack of Generation Why? could have ever been and ever was. But you know what this worldwide wunderkind actually excell at? Teaching and mentoring. No kidding. This ultra-wired generation is damn good at connecting. In person. For real. Take last summer:
The beginning of our family summer '09 went much like the previous two. A camp or two for the kiddies and a few weekends of beautiful BC camping, or say, awesome Oregon camping. By the time August arrived, #1 was off in England on an adventure and #2, well, he was bored out of his 4 year-old skull. I decided that our pre-schooler should alleviate his boredom plus teach himself to swim, and so a daily dip at a local pool became de riguer for this Mum and son for the entire month of August. Imagine a local pool stuffed with 10-20 day camps of our fair city's energetic youngsters. It was a zoo.
The final week of August saw our youngest diving, floating, swimming, sliding, doing everything water-and underwater-possible. Oh yes, well done Tru. But what really struck me, struck me like the heart punch that happens when our teenager takes a moment to lift his little brother up to show him something magical, what really struck me was that, at the end of those long summer days after days, our town's teen camp leaders had shone in their unending enthusiasm, energy, and encouragement when guiding their young charges.
Yes, cynics, I know these kids were paid to be there, perhaps earning a credit or two for school or their resumes but when was the last time you spent every day with 20 children you didn't know very well. In the pool.
As an silent observer, I watched these "fun" or "team" leaders happily and effectively teach, encourage, and care for 100's of young children. I know for certain that, even though we were not involved in the camps, that these young men and women, who had learned my son's name by the first week of August, shouting, "Hey, Tru, great to see you" or "great dive" or even a quick "high five, dude", I know that they gave my son the courage and motivation to take the big plunge. In so many ways.
I don't know your names. I don't know anything about you, but, damn, I'm grateful for you and I'm proud of you. Our future is in tremendous hands.
Our small town has lost two young women recently, one through suicide, one a horrific and unsolved murder. This brilliant, beautiful generation needs our support, faith, kudos, and sadly, our protection.
Full disclosure: I am the proud parent of an amazing, ambitious teen.