Archive for the ‘ teenagers ’ Category


I tutor a teen boy in math, and we’ve met together occasionally over the last two to three years. He’s currently a junior in high school and is taking advanced algebra and trigonometry, and usually I’m relatively formal and reserved with him.

He is well-behaved though surly, and getting him to talk or even acknowledge me is like pulling teeth.  He is a typical teen, very resistant and reluctant to do any actual work, but I like him because deep down, I know there is a sweet young man in there.  Somewhere.

Here’s a typical conversation:

Me: How are you?
Joe*: Grunt.
Me: What are you working on in math?
Joe: I don’t know.
Me: Do you have a test this week?
Joe: Grunt.
Me [trying to engage him in something more personal than math]: When is your prom?
Joe: I don’t know.
Me: Are you going to this year?
Joe: No.
Me: Why not?
Joe: Cause it’s stupid.

So, this week, I was feeling a little daffy, so I walked in the house cheerily and said, “Hey! What’s up, gangsta?” He ignored that for the time being.

Later in our session, Joe was pulling out all the stops to avoid doing any actual work, writing, or problem solving, and we had the following exchange:

Me: Okay, now plug in the numbers and solve the equation.
Joe: What? I have to write it down?
Me [with enthusiasm]: Whys come you be procrastinatin’ fo, yo?
Joe: Um, why are you talking like that?
Me: I am trying to act cool and hip so that you will relate to me and not perceive me as an authority figure against whom you must rebel.
Joe: And what did you call me when you came in?
Me: Gansta, yo!
Joe: Why?
Me: I want you to perceive me as culturally relevant, as someone kewl and not square, so that we can build a good rapport. I know how teens naturally distrust anyone perceived as being part of the establishment.

And on my way out when our session was over:

Me: I hope to see you next week. I really enjoy our time together.
Joe: Oh, me too. Can’t you tell?

*Names have been changed.

“So tuck in your clothes,
I’ll strike a violent pose,
Maybe they’ll leave you alone
but not me.”


I Think

A friend of mine, who is probably on the verge of getting an alias on my blog, sent me an email. “Penny for your thoughts,” he wrote.

I think that the following questions are music to an INTJs ears: “What do you think?” “What’s your opinion?” “What is your input?”

I think that pharmaceutical companies are scary. I refer to them as Big Pharma. Drug sales are fueled by marketing, not efficacy or safety. In other words, the best-selling drug in our country is the one on which Big Pharma spent the most money advertising. It has nothing to do with how good or safe the drug is, or what its side effects are.

I think advertising pollutes our mental environment, Big Pharma being a prime example. In general, advertising (think of print ads in magazines or commercials on the “electronic bookshelf” you have your furniture pointed at) promotes dissatisfaction.

I think that some bands are good even though they are popular and mainstream. But sometimes I am a snob and I don’t *want* to like them because they are popular and mainstream. I am the same way with books. I totally won’t read Twilight or Harry Potter.

I think that the Keurig they put into the office next to mine (for anyone to use) is going to take my caffeine addiction to the next level.

I think a lot about how to constantly change up my workouts (to keep them interesting and to enable myself to make progress and not plateau). A person cannot really get stronger and get leaner at the same time. I mean, it depends on the person’s existing body composition, but especially for people who already have little body fat, it is difficult because it’s like trying to gain weight and lose weight at the same time. Yet, I can never quite decide which I want.

I suppose if I had to choose, I prefer to get stronger. To me, it is easier and more fun. When I lose weight (which I am not at all trying to do), I feel weak, and I don’t like it. Conversely, when I am able to lift more weight, I feel so strong and empowered. Incidentally, over the past two years since I learned to work out properly, I have gained a lot of muscle, but I have not gained any weight. Every woman on the planet struggles with body image (thanks in part to advertising and the promotion of an unrealistic ideal), but I have never felt as secure in my body image as when I started to weight train properly and get strong.

Many women, I think, underestimate their strength. I see women who military press 10 pound dumbbells. “Your shoulders are stronger than that!,” I think. Sometimes I want to go up to them and encourage them, but I never do. That is how I became stronger and felt better about myself, though. I had people who handed me more weight than I thought I could lift, they encouraged me, and I was able to lift it.

I think teenagers are very fascinating. They are in a stage of life where they are searching for identity. They are no longer as authentic as young children are, yet often, teens are still more authentic than many adults. Teenagers have an intriguing balance of idealism and cynicism. They expect and thirst for a lot out of other people and out of life, yet they mistrust people, especially adults (many times rightfully so).

Teens experience all the same insecurities and struggles that adults face, yet they do not have the experience to understand how time changes things. I think that most adults marginalize and discount teenagers, yet often the teens are right (e.g. “I shouldn’t have to do this homework, which is really just busy work, because it is a waste of time that I could be using more productively, and I’m never going to use this crap in real life.” Yes, that actually is true.).