Kids make me feel old. Specifically, teenagers make me feel old. Old and conservative. Sometimes I assume that those two things go hand and hand, but they don’t. I find as the years go on, I am becoming more conservative than some of the kids parents. Where girls are coming to rehearsal in shorts that leave little to the imagination, I am wearing jeans in the middle of the summer. Where 10 year old girls are walking in with blush, mascara, lipgloss and blue eyeshadow, I long for the days when I didn’t have to wear makeup to hide the giant bags under my eyes. I get that times are a changin’ but I can’t seem to hop on board when it comes to my students. This manifests itself both in the way I act in my non-teacher life and the life lessons I find myself bestowing on the students
A dating lesson: On opening night of any show you can see the energy of the cast going through the walls. It is almost as if that energy was a container full of laughing gas that exploded in the theater. Everyone is smiling, everyone is excited and everyone is bouncing off the walls. Between the smell of sweaty teenage boy and overused perfume, no self preserving human can spend too much time backstage, so the staff will take shifts dealing with last minute questions and anxieties as it gets closer and closer to go time. My method backstage is always to find the place where the majority of the kids gather and just pop myself down. They then will flock. I have the basic set of questions for every show. ‘Are you excited?’ ‘Did you check your props?’ And of course ‘So, do you have people coming to the show tonight?’. General answers are to be expected but when an entire gaggle of teenage girls says almost at the same time ‘MY BOYFRIENDS COMING!!!’, I was in shock. Some of these girls are 14, some of them are 18. I think it was the 18 year olds that made me more nervous. Without thinking I stood up and said ‘Don’t date. It’s bad for you’, and walked away. It has since become a pretty regular thing for the girls to try and tell me about their boyfriend knowing I will get uncomfortable and give my default answer ‘Don’t date. It’s bad for you’.
A nutrition lesson: A ten year old student comes in with a medium cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts. He is followed by two of his friends, one girl with an iced coffee and one little boy with a LATTE! The next day one of the senior company kids proceeded to take my VENTI coffee and drink half of it in the hopes to wake up. I snatched the coffee out of his hand and said ‘Don’t drink coffee, it’s bad for you’. He made his mom run to Starbucks and pick up 2 coffees. One of replace mine, which he drank and one for himself.
A social media lesson: Kids were sitting on their IPhones in the lobby gossiping about Facebook. I walk outside hear the words ‘my Facebook’ and reply with ‘Don’t get a Facebook, it’s bad for you.
A fashion lesson: A 16 year old girl comes in two shoe boxes. She proceeds to pull out a beautiful pair of 4 inch stiletto pumps with sparkly straps. The next pair she pulls out is a pair if red platform pumps. I happen to be standing in the lobby checking kids in when I look up and see her holding one of each of the shoes, asking friends (not me) which one they think. I immediately respond ‘Don’t wear heels, they’re bad for you’
My conservative catch phrase has become a little like a game of mad libs. Pending the situation it turns into Don’t (insert word here), it’s bad for you. Some of my more popular ones are Don’t drink (which I think is completely fair), don’t wear blue eye shadow, don’t talk about sex, don’t drive, don’t have co-ed sleepovers, don’t go to after prom, don’t try to cartwheel if you don’t know how, don’t get a smart phone, Etc etc etc. it has gotten to the point where everything is ‘bad for them’. (Sort of like our society where every food causes cancer) But, is any if it really bad for them? No. Drinking coffee may stunt your growth and having a Facebook may cause some unnecessary drama in your life, but I suppose it is all a part of being a kid in 2012. So, I will continue to tell them things are bad for them, they will continue to laugh at me and do them anyway. They will continue to grow up and I will continue to feel like an old fart. I will continue to worry and they will continue being kids. Such is life