Song: “Teenage Sounds” by Neon Trees from Picture Show
CLARK, a 17 year old boy, sits at a large desk as a trio of adults animatedly discussion something behind the windows behind him. He looks up from a notebook that he drawing in and begins to address the audience.
Here’s the thing: I am mad. I am acting out. I am derailing my hopes and dreams one suspension at a time. None of that information is inaccurate.
But they’re still wrong.
Why shouldn’t I be angry? All the people, the teachers, the parents, the parents’ friends, the pastor, and the counselor…none have a good answer. They looked embarrassed. They hem and haw. Sometimes they just make shit up. But no one can tell me why I shouldn’t be mad.
And I know this world isn’t fair and we all have our stuff. And I know that adults hate teenagers. We’re annoying. We’re self-centered. We’re lazy. We’re too tech obsessed. Sure. Fine.
I can remember in my 8th grade gym class the teacher had a bumper sticker taped to the bulletin board in his office and it said, “Hey, teens! Mad? Move out now while you still know everything.” His entire job is working with teenagers and he’s got that shit just sitting there for us all to see. Unbelievable.
I mean, why? Teens are his students, his kids, his nieces, his nephews. So he hangs a sign on his board to make it clear to us all he could give a damn what we think?
Here’s the thing, the deep dark secret of teens: we don’t know everything and we don’t think we know everything. We’re terrified most days. Terrified of the dawning reality that our parents, despite years of assuring us otherwise, also don’t know everything. Terrified of whatever the hell is happening to our bodies and minds. Terrified of what is happening to our friends’ bodies and minds. Everything we took for granted gets tossed over in less than three years time. If that happened to an adult, someone would bring them hot dishes and offer to pick them up something at the store—and rightfully so. But we’re melodramatic, hormonal slaves in their eyes. All our assumptions have been rocked and, somehow, that makes us the problem.
Most crime in this country is committed by adults. The people that committed all those acts of financial fraud? Adults. The climate change deniers, the elected officials, the people in entertainment making all that “trash.” Adults. But teenagers are the problem?!
So, yeah, I’m angry all the time. Why shouldn’t I be? Why wouldn’t I be? What other response is there when you have no power and every newscast reminds you how much everyone over the age of, say, 24 hates you and thinks you are dumb? What’s the magically appropriate way I am supposed to conduct myself? And if I find that magic way, if I stop being so angry, will you all stop blaming me for the ills of the world? Will you stop rolling your eyes at me? I doubt it.
So, until you all show me different, I’m going to stay angry. Not because I know everything. Just because I know enough to know that you don’t either and you hate that I’m figuring that out.