Friday, May 4, 2007

Brave New World

This afternoon I was at school, chatting with a couple of boys from choir while we waited for the girls to finish rehearsing a dance number. Suddenly, a petite blond comes dashing up, jabbering frantically.

"I'm supposed to take a make up math test RIGHT NOW, and I just got my PERIOD, and I'm like, just GUSHING all over my clothes, and I HAVE to go home, and I'm, like SO SCARED to tell Mr. Boone I can't take the test because he's ALREADY mad at me, and I don't know WHAT to say, and I REALLY NEED you to go with me to talk to him RIGHT NOW!!!!"

Now, I've known Kayla since she was in 6th grade, I know her mother and her grandmother, but she wasn't turning to me for help with her feminine problems. No, throughout her entire diatribe, she was staring right at Robert, her 17 year old male classmate. Robert gave me a rather sheepish look, shrugged his shoulders, and went out the door with his distraught charge.
Brian, the other boy witnessing this drama, looked puzzled. "What was that all about?" he asked innocently. "I couldn't understand a word she was saying."

I don't know about you, but when I was 17 and in high school, I would rather have died a thousand deaths than admit to a boy in my class that I was having my period, much less that I was "gushing all over my clothes" and had to go home and change. Obviously, times have changed. Even the fact that I'm writing "publicly" about a subject once considered completely taboo is proof that I myself have entered this "brave new world" where nothing is sacred. And the reaction of the boys involved today was interesting as well. Robert seemed relatively non-plussed about his role in this little drama. And when I attempted to explain Kayla's request to Brian (in as delicate a terms as I could manage), he finally nodded knowingly. "Well, Mrs. Rowan, it's okay that she asked Robert, because he's...well...you know...gay."

Admittedly, Kayla is a Drama Queen par excellence. This girl has some kind of crisis every single day ~ last week, she came running into the auditorium and literally fell to her knees in the middle of the aisle, sobbing hysterically because she had just found out her boyfriend's parents were getting divorced. She has no control of her emotions, no sense of appropriate response or behavior, and reacts all out of proportion to the event. Honestly, she can be a real pain in the butt.

However, she's also a bit scary. Young people who have trouble controlling their emotions are prone to drastic actions that can be dangerous to body and mind. At least Kayla doesn't keep her feelings bottled up inside until they erupt into self destructive behaviors ~ like my friend Liz (who incidentally is still in very grave danger as I write...but that's another story entirely). I can't help but wonder if this brave new world where anything goes is more than a little overwhelming to teenagers. It seems they're almost expected to have some sort of angst in their lives in order to "fit in" with all the celebrity "crisis du jour." Last year, Kayla had a bout with anorexia. Robert (and Michael and Dan) are dealing with sexual identity issues. Katie is bi-polar, Rose just celebrated one year of sobriety, and Jessica's boyfriend is in jail for child molestation. And these are just the kids I know from sixth hour choir.

The world is certainly different. I know I'm showing my age with statements like that. I don't know how "brave" the world itself is, but I think you have to be very brave to grow up in it.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous bella said...

Oh, friend.. the world has changed. I'm more of a timid traditionalist. I'm hoping to raise my daughter to be the same (just not so timid).
Sometimes, seeing the girls walk out of the elementary school as I pick Angie up is enough to make me internally shake my head.
Oh.. I hope your friend Liz is ok, or at least getting on the road to ok. You can email me if you need to talk.

5/05/2007  
Blogger Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

I think you're right ... children do have to be brave growing up in this changed environment. Things have changed and the challenges and issues that children fact today are so different than 30 or even 20 years ago. Much peace, JP

5/05/2007  
Blogger Star said...

Brave or crazy...something like that. Back in the day, I'd have sought out a female teacher to plead my case while I went home to change, although I can't imagine my needing a make-up test anyway. Just makes me shake my head and wonder.

Good for you that you didn't a) have to pick your jaw up off the floor, b) laugh out loud at the absurdity of it all, or c) beat a hasty retreat. Count on you to be calm, collected and the voice of reason. :D

I'll continue to keep your friend Liz close in my thoughts.

5/05/2007  
Blogger Shaz said...

Wow I have only just taken a breath and I was reading silently that was full on and yep I couldnt imagine saying that out aloud, what is normal to the kids of today its different all right.

5/06/2007  
Blogger jzr said...

Becca, you've said it all! I wouldn't want to be growing up in this world. These kids have so much that haunts them. When I was their age there weren't so many problems, or so it seems.

5/06/2007  
Blogger Tammy said...

It's a very scary world which creates anger. My oldest is always stressed, dramatic and angry. Very sad.

5/06/2007  
Blogger Bohemian Mom said...

True. This is not the same world that I grew up in.
My daughter is 11 and it scares me.
The pressures from TV, movies, the media....every thing is SEX, and being SKINNY and lately, REHAB is the new "black".
Sheesh!
Great post!

5/07/2007  
Blogger Mandy said...

o the perils of periods!
were we ever so more innocent in earlier days?

5/07/2007  
Blogger Ally Bean said...

It seems they're almost expected to have some sort of angst in their lives in order to "fit in" with all the celebrity "crisis du jour."

I think that you're on to something there with your analysis of the situation. But I don't think that the behavior is limited to high school. I see it in adults who are too lazy to take responsibility for themselves so they are always "victims" of something or another. And they just love to spread their angst.

5/07/2007  
Blogger Tori said...

I have been wondering how your friend Liz is doing. It seems like you provide a great source of comfort for many people.
My prayers are with you.

5/07/2007  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

I've noticed the same thing with my own children. From the age of thirteen, my daughter had no problem talking about her period in front of her father and brothers. As one of the "I'd rather die" generation, I'm awed by their openness. Maybe it's all the sex education? In many ways, I think it's good though. We were taught to be ashamed of something that was entirely natural.

5/07/2007  
Blogger susanlavonne said...

you slay me! one minute you have me laughing and the next contemplating the seriousness of a situation/predicament...
but it somehow always ends upbeat...just what i needed!
hugs

5/09/2007  

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