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Am I The Only Adult Who Was A Stupid Adolescent?

I’ve had a hectic week at work – launching a HUGE project into the world that makes me feel a little like sending my kid off to college all over again. But I had to pop in for a very quick and therefore poorly written and unproofed entry about the way other adults and people in the media treat teens/young adults these days.

My brain started crunching this issue when all hell broke loose over Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance and her following Wrecking Ball video. I just kept thinking about the Madonna Like a Prayer video and how that controversy was probably bigger (Pepsi disowned her, remember?) but because of the lack of social media, it didn’t feel bigger.

Dude. Miley is 20. She’s rich and famous and I know some people are worried she’s being exploited by why don’t we shout that from the rooftops when these kids are on the Disney Channel? Exploitation doesn’t always involved lude photos or videos. Exploitation is using someone at the detriment of them for the benefit of you. Why weren’t these people “worried” about her sacrificing her childhood for fame and fortune before she was old enough to need a bra?

Not that I’m saying we should have been fussing then, I just don’t understand the fuss NOW.

Anyway – I just write it off as another young adult celebrity trip down “Talk About Me” Lane. She’s not the first to go down that road, she won’t be the last. Do I worry about her? Yeah. But not because she’s licking a hammer on a music video. But because she is 20 and rich and famous! I worry about Taylor Swift too! Jeez.

And then, we had an AWFUL story make the rounds this week. We had a 15-year old boy streak a football game two weeks ago. My band-parent friends thought it was HYSTERICAL. Our team was getting KILLED and so many people appreciated the levity. In the weeks following I didn’t meet one person who said anything other than, “I hope he didn’t get in too much trouble.”

But then he did. And it appears that some officials tried to put the spotlight on the trouble, maybe as an attempt to stop it from happening again? And now? the young man is dead from an apparent suicide.

I’m not going to pretend to know why he killed himself, but it’s just got me back to the chain of thinking…When did we stop allowing teenagers to make stupid mistakes?

Guys…listen to some of the shit I did as a teenager.

  • Blared songs like “Me So Horny” out of our car windows with friends driving down the strip at UT late at night. Singing along with it out the windows like we were drunk. Which we were not, surprisingly enough. We were basically 15-year olds singing to strange college men about being horny.
  • Put signs on the back of our CATHOLIC SCHOOL VAN WINDOW driving to Nashville for a field trip that said, “Honk if you’re Horny!” Our van had our school’s name on it! (I think…) Can you imagine if someone snapped a photo of that today? Hell, they’d probably expel us now. And I remember we wondered why we didn’t get many honks…as an adult I want to find the few that DID honk and say, “REALLY? To a CATHOLIC SCHOOL VAN?”
  • We mooned passerbys from the same van. As in, pulled down our pants and stuck our butts to the window while on a field trip for our school.
  • We ankeld boys at school. (They call it “pantsed” around here.) As in – we pulled down their pants to be funny. Usually you were just going for PANTS but once someone got underwear too and nudity ensued and while the guy was embarrassed? It was something we all laughed about for years.
  • In return – the guys would flip up our uniform skirts to force us to flash our undergarments to the world. So, of course, we wore shorts underneath. And this was a Catholic school!
  • Sang loud songs constantly around many adults who obviously just chose to ignore us…songs like, “I want to sex you up” “Tic Tac Toe…X is for sex or maybe so.” and the aforementioned, “Me So Horny.”

This is just a peppering of things I came up with that if videos went viral, or photos were posted online, we probably would have been punished severely for lude behavior. I just don’t understand when the part of growing up where you test out your adult/sexual identity – when did that become so awful? How is it that our parents and teachers were able to ignore it while so many today get punished? Is it because of social media which means it spreads and people feel PRESSURED into responding? I just don’t know. But I don’t like it.

I see this behavior that makes the news and imagine myself young and in these situations and don’t ever see me doing much differently. I don’t ever look at a rich young celebrity and think, “Dude…I totally wouldn’t have done that.” No…the opposite, I always think, “Thank GOD there was no internet when I was young.” Because I know I would have done it. I would have done it all. And I would have been punished too severely and shamed and ridiculed.

I don’t know. This is rushed and I just had to get it out there because it’s really starting to bug me. One of the commenters at al.com said it best:

We have effectively criminalized childhood and adolescence. We have turned many situations such as public nudity (streaking), urinating outdoors, and sex between adolescents into “sex crimes” that effectively end the lives of kids who make mistakes by placing them on sex offender registries designed, originally, for sexual predators. …Hope we are all feeling so much safer as a society due to our insane policies…

I don’t know the solution. At all. I wish I did. But I did want to go on record documenting the fact that had I been a 15-year old today? I’d be screwed.

11 thoughts on “Am I The Only Adult Who Was A Stupid Adolescent?”

  1. I hadn’t heard about this story – my kids are too little, I suppose, to know about what’s going on in the high school world. I completely agree, and that is absolutely heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. Prayers for the family who lost their son.

  2. Ha, yes: I’m thinking about once a week that I’m so glad I wasn’t a teenager with this social media. One of my Facebook friends is a teenaged girl, and the stupid stuff she writes makes me cringe and wince—because it’s exactly the sort of stupid thing I probably would have been posting on Facebook. It gives me hope, in fact: I don’t have to think she’s actually stupid. She’s just in that stupid age.

  3. Yes, yes, yes!!! I have been talking about this for years. We have taken grace out of the equation. We have ignored the fact that children have undeveloped frontal lobes that do not allow them to see the outcome of their actions. They live for the moment without fear of consequence, but now the consequences can be dire. Expulsion, suspension, jail time, criminal records, etc. Their college plans and futures can be affected, JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE BEING KIDS!!! It is a very sad statement on our society.

  4. I didn’t participate in much discussion about miley, because I saw it for what it was– a shameless display of “look at me, look at me oh please someone LOOK AT ME”. I felt embarrassed for HER, when I watched it on youtube. I believe she was essentially pimped out in the name of music, either of her own free will or ideas, or from pressure to sell records. What bothers me in these displays is what will the NEXT “Miley” have to do to get that kind of attention?

    As for the sex offender laws and such, yes we have to make some changes to the way current laws read. Unfortunately when technology is changing at the speed of light, its hard to keep laws that fairly apply to all the various situations. I saw a show once about a girl who purposely texted a nude picture to her boyfriend (she was 16 I think and he was a senior in HS, so 17-18ish…) he made the mistake of sending it to ONE close friend (who of course shared it with another etc etc)…. and while I feel for the girl who didn’t intend to show the whole world, I also feel for the boy who is on a sex offender list for life, for distributing child pornography. Its a scary time to be a teen growing up.

  5. I did the oh me so horny thing. I even taught the song to a 3,4 and 5 year old. I feel it is not so bad here (NL), but actually not sure as my kids are 3 and 6.

  6. I was a stupid teenager, too. I figure Miley is trying her damnedest to rebrand herself, and so she has to go as far from teen pop star as she can. She’s doing an excellent job. Ultimately, why would it be our business what she does with herself? (I don’t even know _what_ she’s doing to cause all the ruckus. :))

  7. This is SO TRUE. And I have an 8-year-old and I can’t BELIEVE the difference already.

    My son is a kind and sweet boy — and I’m not saying that as a protective mama-bear who pampers her sweet little prince. He and another boy were playing on the bus and he grabbed a boy too hard …. he was written up for ASSAULT. ASSAULT.

    Can you IMAGINE? He was 7!

    I can’t wait until he’s 13, God knows what he’ll get written up for at that point.

  8. The death of that teen this week has been a topic of discussion many times in our house. What a tragedy. I am blown away that he was facing the possibility of such serious trouble for such a teenage act. It is beyond insane. And I have also tried to tell my teenagers, NOTHING is worth suicide. Esp not something like this.

  9. As a mom and adult at the game that night, I can say it was absolutely the best thing that happened the entire night! Nobody around me that night was offended in the lease with the situation. In fact, I believe the entire GHS side of the stadium cheered for this young man. I am so so angry at our society as a whole right now that this boy got into “so much trouble” he felt the need to end his life. I cannot tell you how irritated that makes me at our systems regardless if its the school or legal system. Bottom line is they must have come down on him so hard he couldn’t deal with it which pushed him over the edge and now his family’s life is forever changed….. What a freaking waste!

    As far as Miley goes Kim, I am right there with you! Can you not remember all the drama with Madonna and the junk she did? And what about George Michael? PeeWee Herman? And lets not forget everybody’s favorite Iron Man today…he was in and out of rehab how many times? People ran their mouth about it and maybe it was on the MTV News but that was about it. Today people want to be aware of everything 24/7 to stuff that is none of their business but then are pissed when they aren’t “told about it” Again so stupid…

    I laugh thinking about all those songs you mentioned because I did and sang all he same crap you did with those songs. Only one I can think of you didn’t mention was Naught by Nature, OPP and I bet you remember that song too! Sorry to ramble on this post but I get a little fired up over the waste of a young child’s life over something so innocent when you just get right down to it!

  10. Amen Sister. What I don’t understand is if we are parent all agree on this so much how is it nothing is being done?

    As far as solutions – my first one would be to get rid of the zero tolerance crap and school resource officers. I wish I had the link handy by there as study recently that showed the spike in arrest rates of teens (of all races) since school resource officers have become a thing.

    Now what would have been detention or suspension from the principal for our generation, is the a no questions asked arrest from the police that we allow to wander the halls of our schools. The same study showed that statistically the kids have not been any ‘safer’ from harm.

    Our kids go to school in a police state operating under a marshal law and we pretend to be okay with it. We need to put discipline back in hands and best judgement of educators who work with kids everyday and understand that kids make mistakes and have a vested interest into helping them move past it.

  11. My granddaddy used to say that thankfully there’s a special god for fools and children. We weren’t just stupid as teenagers, we were dangerous. Mostly because it never once occurred to us that we could get injured doing something stupid. Swinging on a rope into a rapidly moving river comes to mind off the top of my head. Some of my friends got into some pretty big trouble back then for some of the stunts they did. The thing is that those things don’t follow them today unless it’s one of our friends making fun of them, or using them for an example to their own kids. If the same things happened today? It would follow them forever.

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