The Power of Youth

 Today I had not one, but MANY mothers come up to me and thank me for requiring their children to do a personal finance project.

“It has taught [my student] the harsh realities of life.”

*sigh*

And I walked away feeling very deflated.

In all honesty I could not, with any sense of personal integrity due to the nature of this class, avoid doing this project.  That said, it was truly a personal struggle to make it happen, and it was for this very reason that I was so hesitant to require it.

I have been inundated with conversations of late about how hard this teenager is going to have it or that teenager, or those hypothetical few that fall into *that* category.  (Pregnancy, young marriage, medical issues, pick your poison.)

According to all the adults with whom I am forced to suffer these conversations all I hear over and over again is:

“They won’t be able to do it.”

“Oh, don’t expect them to be able to adapt to that change!”

“It’s too hard!”

“What were they thinking?!”

and on and on. . .

My favorite is, “They don’t know what that will require from them.”  At least that one is completely accurate, and God bless them for their ignorance.

The others are a bunch of old-fogey junk!

I mean, “Hello??!!”  Well over 98% of the people I have these conversations with, I know how their adult life started out, and yet they somehow made it.

Because:

Youth is highly adaptable.

Youth is truly optimistic.

Youth has the power of imagination and belief that it can be better.

Youth has the ability to rise again, even if they have been beat down repeatedly.

Why do so many of us with the *wisdom* of age refuse to acknowledge those very simple truths?  Think of the many very young mothers that somehow raised families.  Think of the young men who provided for those families.  Think of Alexander the Great, who died when he was about 30.  What about Civil Rights?  Was it a bunch of old people (or even middle-aged) marching the streets demanding change?

What truly scares me is the number of parents who see everything as an impossibility for their youth making excuses for their offspring.  Or worse, preventing certain things from occurring on the pretext of saving their children from these challenges.

Gosh darn it, CHALLENGE YOUR KIDS!  Provide them with an opportunity to grow.  Let them learn the power of success in spite of change or difficulties.  Let them learn the pain of failure, for it is often through those failures that the most is attained.

I want to scream to teens and young adults alike, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” (courtesy of Ms. Frizzle)

Today I was congratulated on helping the teens in my class get a “grasp on reality”.

To those teens, and all others:

“Reality” will come soon enough.  Until then, reach for your stars.  Make things happen.  Go for the impossible.  Achieve all and more that those who are older than you say is beyond your grasp.

You have the enviable power of youth.  Do not squander it.

Posturing

Some of my very favorite books are full of intrigue, suspense, and obscure meanings, (like one would see in diplomatic speech).

For example:

“I hope you can appreciate the fact that I am really not in a position to make serious changes in the government at the moment.” Drop dead.

“Please, I wasn’t suggesting that. I fully appreciate your situation. My hope was to allay at least one supposed problem, to make your task easier.” Or I could make it harder.

-from Executive Orders by Tom Clancy

I truly appreciate when the intended meanings are put in italics too as they would otherwise, most likely, be lost on me. I simply don’t speak/think that way. It would require training for me to get to that level of understanding.

My speech (verbiage and understanding) is very much like my driving. I actually use turn signals, and such to signal my intent. There should, in my mind, be no doubt in another’s mind as to what I’m actually doing.

Not so, other drivers in our state! Therefore, when our kids turn about 15 I start instruction on “vehicle body language”.

It usually starts something like this:

“Just what do you think that idiot is about to attempt to do?”

Towards the end of the child’s “training” I can expect,

“Well, due to lack of any signals whatsoever, I couldn’t tell you. They are in the left-hand turn only lane (which, you would think, would mean something); yet, their wheels are cranked in the complete opposite direction, and they keep throwing up furtive looks in their review mirror every few seconds. Therefore, the nut-jobs are going to attempt to cross three lanes of moving traffic and make a right-hand turn.”

We learn similar skills in body language too.

“Posturing” sets the ground work for identifying the “path” or the direction one wishes to travel.

In case you don’t recall, I wrote this post about how difficult I was finding it to determine how I wanted to lead a unit study class.

Well, nearly half-way through the course, I have FINALLY figured out my “posture”.

It’s about time!