Three students at our local middle school were arrested this week.
Three high school students have been to the E.R. for treatment of alcohol and drug overdoses, and it’s only 8 weeks into the school year.
How about someone being wheeled out of school on a stretcher with alcohol poisoning?
Across from our local high school, there is a street corner commonly known as The Drug Corner.
This is the part of the story where you probably think “thank God my kids go to better schools than his kids do”, or “Hal really needs to move to a better area”.
There isn’t a better school system in the state of Pennsylvania. Newsweek has ranked our high school as one of the top 50 high schools in the country (out of 20,000 high schools), three years in a row. Our school district was just ranked the #4 school district in the United States of America by TheStreet.com.
The young people that I described above, and their challenges, are no different than the young people where you live.
When my extended family gets together for meals and parties, our stories sometimes turn to when we were younger. The stories we tell are divided into three categories:
1) The trouble we got into that everyone knows about,
2) The trouble we got into that no one knows about,
3) The trouble we should have gotten into, but weren’t caught.
In other words, We were not angels.
Growing up in 2015 is difficult. In addition to all of the challenges that have existed since the dawn of time (or when I was a teenager, which happened at the dawn of time, if you ask my daughters), young people now live in a totally different age.
The good news is that they have access to improved information and social media that help them to connect in a way I could never have imagined.
The bad news is that all of their behavior on social sites is recorded forever. I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I had recorded all of my misadventures on social media when I was 16.
There would be a lot of explaining to do.
Bruce Springsteen wrote a song called “Growin’ Up” in 1973. He was young when he wrote it. In the middle of his performances of the song, he would tell stories about his youth. His stories were often frustrated, angry ones about conflict with his parents, and his struggle to achieve his own identity while living with his parents.
Now that he is grown up (66 years old at last count), his stories about his parents have softened. He has his own children, and he has the same challenges that every parent has.
Every once in a while, he brings his mother onstage to dance with him.
It is difficult to be the parent of young people who are growing up. Really difficult. I once heard someone say “if you really want to appreciate your parents, have children”.
But I think it might be even more difficult to be a teenager in 2015 than it is to be a parent.
Tonight we will have dinner together, and I will tell them that I love them. Because I do. Later I will tuck them into bed, and thank God that they are safe and healthy.
That is as close as I can get to dancing onstage with them.