In The Classroom: Know-it-all-kids

Damned kids . . .
They know it all. You can’t tell them anything. They don’t listen and I swear, it’s like talking to the wall, only, the wall listens better and the wall doesn’t talk back.
I never thought I would say these things. Then again, I never thought I would be an adult either, —which is not to say that I never thought I would grow older. I guess I just assumed I would always see be the same way.

Safe to say I never assumed a lot of things would happen.  It is also safe to say I never really knew what adulthood was, and in fact, I’m pretty sure my definition changes the more I grow.
There are times when I think of things I might have said (or did) and I cringe because I would never think, act, or respond that way now. I suppose at some point, some of the old jokes lost their humor and some of the old ideas lost the novelty of their genius. I think it is fair to say that at some point, old behaviors and the old nonsense become like old outfits that lost their style.

I took a long drive to a college with someone. This was years back. I was in my late 20’s and closing in on my 30’s and driving up with someone in his late 40’s. He was  looking to take a trip down his memory lane and visit his old college during a week when the alumni come back.
Forgive me though. The name of the event fails me. Maybe it was called The Spring Fling. Who knows, maybe it was called something else; however, all I know is although I still saw myself as young, it was very clear that we were the old guys.

I remember a bus ride through the town. I remember the drive passed the frat houses. I remember the town, which was nice. I also remember feeling tired because I was out until 5:00a.m. the night before, and there I was, a wing-man, and a tagging along down a trip of someone’s memory lane.
There were others on the bus. We were heading over to the picnic grounds. Most of the people on the bus knew each other. They were all young kids, alive and well, and living like prefect little college lunatics on the verge of drinking as much beer as humanly possible.

I sat in the back and didn’t say much. Besides, this trip wasn’t mine. I was with someone that made this trip every year for more than a decade.
We were at the back of the bus and listening to the loud ones on the bus. They were the local hooligans, anxious and eager to be as crazy.
They were more than just unforgivably younger. They were more than loud and more than youthfully ignorant. They were college kids looking to drink beer through a funnel and run around screaming until they passed out, cold.

It had been a long time since I was on a big yellow school bus. They looked the same as I remember though. They smelled the same. Wide green bench seats, to which of course, we chose to sit in the ones at the back because this is where the cool kids sit. However, we were in strange company. And I call our company strange because they were strangers. I could hold my own because I was at least closer in age. But again, this wasn’t my trip. No, I was with someone and he was much older.

We were in the back and trying to blend in. We were laughing along at one of the college guys. But the laughter stopped when without concern for his surrounding, the college kid began to poke fun at the alumni that come back to visit their old campus.

“I get it if you come back a few times, but these people are ridiculous —they got these old people coming back and it’s like, get a life or something,”

Then he turned towards us and said, “Oh, um, sorry about that.”
I knew this wasn’t aimed at me. Then again, this wasn’t about me. This wasn’t my trip. I was with someone else and I saw how the insult took hold of him.

I suppose I was no different at one point. I know I was loud. I know there were times when I spoke without regard for others. I know that I said hurtful things and figured they were humorous. I suppose when age pulls of its trick, we come to the understanding that certain things become irreversible. Things can never be unsaid and we come to know that hurtful words have the ability to hurt someone’s feelings for a longer than we ever imagined.

I received a friend request on social media from someone that I was in elementary school with. He was a year or two younger. I knew where he lived, which was down the block from me. His father had a job as a caretaker for a nearby place of worship. They lived on the grounds in a small home, which seemed a bit underwhelming with dark brown siding. The white trim was cracked and aged. And yes, regretfully, I admit to chiming in when other people made fun.
The friend request was a strange one to see. The name was the kind that rings the memory bell and makes someone’s inner voice say, “Oh my God! I remember that kid.”

I received a private message. More or less, the message went on to say he remembered me as a kid and that his memories of me were not good, but they weren’t all bed either—just mostly bad, which I get, because I know how bullying and childhood insults work.

Safe to say I never thought the things I said would ever sit with anyone as long as this. Then again, if asked, I can remember each of my childhood moments of public humiliation. I remember who picked on me. I remember them clearly too.

Come to think of it, these things are not limited to childhood moments of public humiliation. Come to think of it, that trip down memory which I took with someone to enjoy his alumni event never happened again for him either.

One of my favorite quotes from Robert Fulghum is “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can break my heart.”

I believe this.

Sometimes, I write letters to people I said things or did things to. I have written these notes to old girlfriends, old friends, and people that I wished I was kinder to.  I write these letters to people I was dishonest with or deceitful towards. I apologize for the boundaries I crossed and offer no excuses; however, I do explain my understanding of what I had done and I outline the exact nature of my wrong because this is what I was taught to do.

I don’t send these letters out because in most cases, I wouldn’t know where to send them. Also, I am a firm believer that in many cases, the best way to apologize for something is to leave the person alone and not remind them of how they were mistreated.

Damned kids . . .
I swear their mouths move faster than their brain. They don’t think before they speak. And you can’t tell them anything. It’s like talking to a wall . . .

One of the things I’ve heard from clinicians and other specialists in the recovery field are it is tough to work with adolescents because they already think they know it all.
This is true. I find this as well. I agree. The toughest part of reaching out to a kid is the fact that they think they know it all. Know what the toughest part about reaching out to an adult is? They think they know it all too.

Who knows?

Maybe someday, we might all grow up

until then, remember

nana-nana booboo
stick your head in doo-doo

so there!


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