Teenagers. We’ve all seen them, we all used to be one at some stage and some of us have them now.  Gangly haired, greasy faced and moody we watch them shuffle around street corners swigging from hidden cans of cider and throwing chips at one another across the shopping precinct.

Today’s blog has been inspired by one particular teenager. I don’t know his name; I don’t know where he comes from. All I do know is that I see him every day as he makes his way to the train station, so I’ve decided to call him, “Lurch”. 

Lurch is around 6ft in height; he’s thin, has trousers that ride up well above his ankles, a hat that goes over his ears and walks to the bus stop.  It’s not the walking element that gets me here but more the fact that he catches a bus to take him the short quarter of a mile journey to the train station whereupon he meets up with some more of the same species.

When Lurch does walk its painful to see, the view from behind as his knees go inward, his legs outward and his feet flop around as though they have no control or are in fact not actually connected to the rest of his body. To see him run is even worse as this requires effort on his behalf. Here, the knees knock together, his legs and arms flail around and his feet are all over the place as his satchel which is over one shoulder sways and bashes against his body.

Life for a teenager can be quite a trauma. With raging hormones, the discovery of themselves as an individual as well as that of the opposite sex can often lead to conflict and the he said she said brigade will still carry on well beyond the primary school playground into early adulthood. Now however, instead of stomping their feet for a few minutes as a child and going into a sulk, they broadcast how they feel to the entire world with the power of social media using Facebook, Twitter or even on a blog like this one. Within seconds all their many hundreds of “friends” will know who’s broken up with whom, if they are available for another serious relationship or if she really did snog Steve behind the chippy last night.

Teenage sex however is an entirely new ball game. I was 17 when I had my first kiss, a girl called Nicola who I met whilst doing my teenage Saturday job. I was in love, she was the one, we were going to have a massive family and live happily ever after. However, reality bites and after a couple of weeks she moved on to someone else breaking my heart. Now, teenagers are getting jiggly with each other just ten minutes after they meet. Wham, bam thank you ma’am and they are off. Over the first hurdle, round the corner and onto third base before you can say babies, which of course can be the inevitable result if they are not careful.

They say that school days are the best days of your life but I would argue against that. For me, growing up was one long constant struggle amongst my fellow gladiators. Trying to get a girl was nigh on impossible and on the few rare occasions when one would actually stop to talk to me more than to ask for the time, my mouth would dry and I would end up a gibbering wreck through lack of experience. For girls however it always seemed a lot easier, they hang around in bunches of three or more. Whenever a brave alpha male tried to enter the arena and ask one out to the school disco they would inevitable get shot down in flames only to be equally berated from said girl’s counterparts.

A lot of teenagers nowadays are viewed by the adult population as a threat, and to an extent they have partly brought that on themselves. The hooded tops may be the height of fashion but the top and scarf combo even on a warm day can give the impression that they are out to cause trouble. Whilst this aspect may partly be true adding weight to the argument, it can also work against them as those wearing the gear to fit in with the rest can unwittingly be tarring themselves with the same brush. If they are wearing the clothing as a fashion statement, then what is it they trying to say? I’m a teenager, hear me roar.  

I’m a child of the 70’s and 80’s, my parents raised me on BBC Radio 2 with Kenny Everett, Simon Bates and the big hairy monster from 200 miles up the M1. The late Jimmy Saville was sitting on his big blue chair handing out “Jim Fixed it for Me” medals and foods such as the Avocado and Prawn Cocktail were classified as exotic. Music of the time included Bucks Fizz, Adam Ant and everyone walked around like Egyptians at parties. Now, someone like Lurch will listen to a guy in a large puffa jacket swallowing a microphone reeling off a whole line of syllables in rapid succession. Whilst being accompanied by scantily clad dancers who parade their booty. Friends of Lurch will eagerly absorb all the gossip they can fill their heads with and think that Big Brother is highly intellectual. Mind you, compare that to watching something like The Magic Roundabout, there’s probably not a lot in it between the two.

Personally, my opinion of teenagers is that deep down they can be highly misunderstood individuals. It doesn’t help however when all they do is grunt at you in their own language using as little effort as possible, whilst crying wolf in another breath saying you don’t understand and are not listening. I’ve found that the best way to communicate with a teenager is to stop whatever it is you are doing and look at them directly yet calmly in the face. Don’t frown, don’t roll your eyes at them and don’t ever try and “get down wiv da kidz” as this will just antagonize them into throwing a complete and pointless unnecessary strop. Instead, treat them like an adult and in the same way you would wish to be treated yourself. If they are acting like a prat, tell them. If you are proud of them, then let them know. Emphasise that they are free to make their own mistakes but should learn from the process. If you are a parent, then let them know that you are there for them when they need you but you will not always be able to provide as much financial support as the banks support their executives. Hopefully the message should get across and they will realise that you are not always out to get them.

Thankfully, it is a phase that most of them tend to grow out of after a few years and “normality” takes over once more. As for Lurch, no doubt I’ll probably see him again tomorrow as he slouches his inward knobbly knees towards the bus stop for the usual two-minute journey. He’ll never know that he’s had an article dedicated to him. Otherwise if he did then it would probably be tweeted to all his friends via mobile phone before turning on his iPod and listen to yet more rapid fire syllables which they call music.


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