In a word?...YOU.
You heard me, look in the mirror. Yes, you.
How dare I say that? I’ll tell you how; I’ve been in & out of a leadership position in youth ministry over the past 3 decades spanning both coasts. Those early kids are now parents, and I am currently the parent of 4, yes FOUR WONDERFUL teenagers.
That’s right, I called them WONDERFUL!
Do I have your attention?
I’m so sick and tired of society assuming the worst of young people who are ready to storm the world with fresh ideas and energy.
It starts when they’re little. When we had 4 kids under the age of 5, we already started to hear it… “Just wait until their teenagers…” I’d respond with a cheerful, “I can’t wait; it’s going to be amazing!”
But their little ears heard the message, over, and over, and over again…teenagers are trouble.
Then they got a little older, and the first one began to drive. This is what he heard from you, “OH NO! Stay off the road! The roads are no longer safe because you’re driving!” Would you like to know what I told him? “Hooray! After driving you around for the past 15 ½ years, I finally have a chauffeur, it’s your turn to drive me! You’re going to be great!” And guess what...he is. He is an excellent driver, partially because he listened to me, his cheerleader, and ignored you.
I now have one fully licensed driver (he also passed his motorcycle endorsement with flying colors), and one more in training. And I say all the time that I’m very pampered, I now have not one, but two chauffeurs at my beck and call.
Thirteen-year-old girls are the worst!
Oh yeah? Do you remember what it was like to be a 13 year old girl? Yeah, it’s the worst…from a 13yo girl’s perspective.
But if you give a 13yo girl a chance, guess what? She’s bright, energetic, loves to babysit, loves to cook or draw or paint, play music or play sports. My 13yo girl decorated no less than 6 birthday cakes for a family reunion that happened to fall in a big birthday month. She’s amazing! And all those other 13yo girls would be too if you would give them half a chance.
If you’ve known me for very long, you know I’m passionate about teens.
So what prompted me to step onto my soapbox today?
Little League…yep, baseball with the 12 & under crowd. T-ball where the T must stand for ‘tackle’ because that’s what all the kids do when the ball is hit into the infield, there is mass chaos of the most wonderful sort as they all scramble for the ball; Rookie/Coach pitch where they’re super enthusiastic and are beginning to understand the game. Minors…they get it, but still are working on the physical control it takes to pitch the ball over the plate, hit that wild ball pitched by one of your buddies, and catch that ball that’s been lobbed hard and not aimed well. Then you hit the majors, where the kids really are getting good; home runs, double plays, tight games, all under a brilliant blue sky with just enough breeze to waft the smell of the hot dogs on the grill your way and tantalize your taste buds.
Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? It is…and yet, it isn’t.
Over the past 10 years that our kids have been playing ball, we’ve seen a subtle shift of less and less parental involvement. More and more parents are using sports as a babysitting service, many of them not even staying for their games…it’s sad really because I can tell you, that as a mom, there’s nothing like the thrill of actually being there to see your kid make that game winning play, or personal best hit or catch.
This year our league was desperately in need of coaches. Repeated pleas to the parents of the kids on the team yielded no volunteers. The head of the league contacted me, knowing that my oldest teen is now legally an adult. You see, you need to be an official ‘adult’ to coach little league. He gladly volunteered as did his 16yo brother.
Did you hear that?
What all the parents were unwilling to do; two teenage boys without any siblings on the team were willing to step in. And they did so with the complete knowledge that at one point in the season they would have to play against the team that their sister was on.
Yeah…teenagers these days.
Opening Day, those boys were ready to meet their team and march in the parade. We arrived early to find that some of the uniforms had not been picked up by the parents. So we hustled as fast as we could back to the beginning of the parade route to deliver the uniforms. Was my son thanked? Recognized as coach? Nope. Nothing but ‘tude from the parents…yeah, those same parents that ignored the emails begging for a coach. I’m proud of my boys, they just walked away.
The problem with teens these days is you.
Did you ever stop to think about what it takes to run a baseball league? None of these people are paid; they do it for the kids, out of the goodness of their heart. But guess what? When it comes to some of the day to day stuff like running the score board, grooming the fields, even coaching and umpiring, guess who some of the most enthusiastic volunteers are?
Those kids who have recently aged out of the system and have fond memories on the field; many of them with younger siblings still playing. They get it. They know how much baseball meant to them and they want to make sure that other kids have the same glorious experience.
This Saturday found my 16yo umpiring a minor league game, not unusual as he has umped many times over the past 3 years. This game however was unusual. I witnessed some very poor behavior from the coaches on both sides, and even some of the parents as they questioned and berated the ump, my son.
How did my 16yo son handle it? With grace, determination, consistency and calm.
Many of the parents came and thanked him afterwards, they recognized how out of line the coaches and other parents were. Anyone who has ever played baseball knows the cardinal rule, you don’t question the ump, his rule is final.
Again…the problem with teenagers today is you.
Why was my 16 yo son going to coach a team this year? Because none of the adults could be bothered.
The problem with teenagers today is you.
Why was my 16yo son umpiring again today? Because none of the adults could be bothered.
The problem with teenagers today is you.