The Teen Commandments

With Easter less than a week away, Mom decided it was high time to go to the Christian stores and look for holy cards and other religious gifts to put in our baskets. I went with her, and while looking around I found a few items that made me want to shred something with my almost-nonexistent fingernails. One of these things was a daily deovtional book thing for teens. But instead of calling it, like, Devotions for Teens, they called it Devos. As in, an abbreviation because apparently that’s how those young whippersnappers talk these days, they never say the whole word; let’s show teens how cool we are by making the word shorter!

Yeah, it was so cool I almost got frostbite. 

So, fine, whatever, I got over it… Then I saw a cluster of Ten Commandment tablets that you could put on your mantle or something, and upon closer inspection I saw that one of them said “Teen Commandments”. They went like this: “God is #1… Don’t steal…. Obey adults (oh yeah, I can tell who made that one up! It’s supposed to be honor your parents, brilliant!)” Etc. More abbreviations, trying to be “cool”.

Ooh. Where’s my sweater, it’s too cool for me!

You have no idea how much stuff like that irritates me. First of all, what Expert of Teenage Minds told you that abbreviating everything is how we talk? Because as much as we might write that way, we don’t talk like that. (Like that horrid magazine GL– vacay, ‘rents, convo– I do not know one person who talks like that for real!) And the fact that you are doing it just proves to us that you’re trying to be cool when you’re really not, adults. Hence, your efforts are negated. Sorry, Mr. Expert PHD of Teenage Psycology or whatever, but you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Secondly, do I look stupid to you? Okay, so you cut out the thees and thous, and that’s welcome. But you don’t need to be all, “God <3’s u 4eva” or anything for me to understand what you’re saying, or even to get me to listen. Because when you do that, you’re coming “down to their level”. Excuse me? Down? Down is exactly why I turn away, why I ignore you, brush you off, roll my eyes. Every young person knows when they are being talked down to. Regardless of if the person doing it doesn’t mean to be rude, or even does it in hopes of attracting teens to reading something like the ten commandments, the fact that they feel the need to “dumb down” or change things so drastically makes a young person feel instant irritation and indignation. Now I will never in a hundred years listen to you, since you think I’m so dull-witted.

In my opinion, it’s the adults who need some Teen Commandments.
Here are mine… There are only eight, so really, it’s not that hard.

1. Thou shalt not call me a Teen. Please. It’s “young adult” to you.

2. Thou shalt not talk down to me, or treat me as though I am a lesser being, of less intelligence, wisdom, judgement, and overall capability than you. We are equals.

3. Thou shalt not assume that my problems/accomplishments are less than your own “adult” problems and accomplishments. In the same way, thou shalt not treat my aspirations and thoughts as naieve or laughable just because they come from someone my age.

4. Thou shalt not try to be cool. Just… no.

5. Thou shalt not assume that I am not a “real writer” because I am young, and because so many people my age write, but are not writers. Should I assume that you can’t write, either, because I have encountered so many other adults who can’t? We all have different talents and abilities. In the same way, I am serious about pursuing writing and thou shalt belive me when I call it my work.

6. Thou shalt treat me the way you want to be treated. I do not judge all adults by the others I have met, so you should not judge youth by all the others you have met. Give me some respect, and I assure you that it will be returned.

7. Thou shalt not call my outbursts, rants, or other volatile mood swings “teenage angst”. My feelings are as real as yours. Everyone has days when they are upset or angry; both youth and adults should be able to voice and express these feelings without being condescended.

8. Thou shalt always remember that adultism is a form of prejudice, and one that can hurt as much as any other. Thou shalt keep this in thy conscience, so that you may remember that we of any and all ages are equals, human beings, and our differences in talents, experiences, tastes, and more enriches all of our lives, if we are open to one another.

–Pen

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6 thoughts on “The Teen Commandments

  1. momromp

    Nice post. I hope this isn’t in response to my reference to you as a “young writer” in my last post. (Sorry if my description of your blog wasn’t quite what you wanted.)

    Good list of rules. A lot of these still apply to me at 33. I have some older adults in my life who persist in treating me like I’m an imbecile. Adults.

  2. pen2sword

    No, no, I know I’m young, so I don’t mind that at all. I was in fact very honored by your mention of my blog.

    You’re one of the most non-adultist people I (don’t) know.

  3. momromp

    Wow! What a lovely compliment. I think my lack of adult-ness was one of the main reasons my students liked me. (Or, I think they liked me. Who knows.)

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