Teenage Wasteland


I often take a Long Run on Sunday mornings – beautiful way to start the week and it’s a great way to feel like you have the world to yourself. I vary the routes for my Long Runs, but most pass by a variety of schools, parks, playgrounds, wooded picnic areas and the like. My community is pure suburbia, – it’is a suburb of NYC- but it’s a little rural-like – lots of trees and open space. One unexpected aspect of traveling these routes on a Sunday morning is that I get to see all of the places where the local teens were drinking the night before. Yep, based on the piles of empties in said parks, picnic areas and school parking lots, I can tell where the local youths like to get their drink on. Is there a section on Yelp where I should post these hotspots?

It hit me recently that my oldest will be a teenager in 2 short years. God help me. I was a pretty good kid – though I certainly broke lots of rules and did things that would NOT have made my parents proud, I also had a good head on my shoulders and a line that I would simply not cross when it came to teenage shenanigans. I didn’t smoke, do hard drugs, or drink and drive. I knew when to leave a party and when not to get into a car. Interestingly, I actually attribute some of my line drawing to the fact that I always played sports – there is nothing like the threat of endless windsprints at a weekend practice or the humiliation of sitting out a game for unseemly behavior to get you to toe the line even when the devil on your shoulder tells you that you are missing out. The fact that most of my friends played sports and faced the same set of consequences didn’t hurt, either. Probably what scares me the most is that I was a “good” kid and I still did stupid stuff. My parents were very trusting and a bit naïve, so I got away with a lot of nonsense. And it is only a few years before my own kids start engaging in that nonsense.

Then I gave it a little more thought on my Long Run this morning (during which, yes, I saw tons of empties – was yesterday a holiday that no one told me about?). Hmmm…God help me? Ha! God help my children! Unlike my parents, I know what pot smells like, what drunk kids act like and what dilated pupils are. I know what the munchies are and can distinguish a hangover from the flu. Or a migraine. I am sure that they will step out, but I am equally sure that I can – and will – at least make it extremely hard for them to do anything too outrageous. While I might not be able to stop them from doing stupid stuff, I sure as heck am pretty well prepared to bust them for it (and punish accordingly).

And thanks to my Long Runs, I even know where to look for them to catch them in the act, if necessary. Heh, heh, heh.

PS – None of the aforementioned applies to my youngest. He will give me a run for my money no matter what I do. I’m just glad I have more time to prepare for his teenage years. I’ll need it.

PPS – While running through these isles of empties this morning, my mp3 shuffle was astute enough to mix in “Baba O’Riley,” one of my all time favorite running songs. Teenage Wasteland, indeed!


2 thoughts on “Teenage Wasteland

  1. Your kids will still find a way to do stuff you won’t find out about until you’re 40-something. You’ll be shocked that they got away with it without you knowing a thing. Trust me. But you will survive and live to laugh about it all, though.

    • Agreed! My goal is this: be watchful and connected enough that the stuff they do isn’t bad enough to hurt anyone (including themselves), require the local police to visit, or get their names in the paper.
      My mom still tells us she’d rather not know anything she doesn’t already know about our teenage years!

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