Teens in the hood

The older I get the more I love teenagers. 

At the time I found them (and myself) terrifying and highly unpredictable. Mercurial, petty and weirdly opaque. 

I sometimes think I just needed to get some grounding. Self confidence is some kind of adamantium armor. 

Because now moody teens and social politics are almost charming. And being an idiot or getting something wrong or not being liked? It’s all just puffy air. 

I ponder this because I spent yesterday tutoring high school physics. 

A class that knocked me sideways as a student. My only ever B+ cost me my valedictorianship and my pride. (I was very, very tightly wound back then.)

And I’m certainly not great at physics now, but I’m okay with that. Because I’m totally okay with being some lady who’s trying to help and is totally dorky in the process. 

And now that I’m not (okay, less) blinded by tropes and hormones, boy are teenagers awesome. 

Passionate and complicated and aspirational. Reckless and excitable and fun. 

I had a swathe of D students on a school forgiveness day yesterday. A pilot test for an urban Chicago school where late work turned in with tutoring help from volunteers was given full credit. A sort of get-out-of-jail free for kids on the slopes to delinquency.

And they may have been chaotic and distracted (and talking trash and dressing like gangsters), but they were still there. After school. On a Friday. With the guts to ask a frump like me for help. Wanting to get a better grade. And patiently putting in the hours to do it. 


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