Teen Angst

To the teenaged boy with the scooter who called me ugly this afternoon while I was waiting for my Chinese food to be ready: I don't care that you called me ugly. You did not hurt my feelings, if that was what you were going for. I am not ugly. I know that I am not ugly because I have fairly good self esteem, and with the exception of the occasional midmonth bloatfest I like what I see when I look in the mirror. I also have a husband who seems to like what he sees and a five year old who happens to think I am the bees knees. Your immature comment, meant to impress your buddies and make you feel important, did not actually affect me because I am a grownup and yes your biggest fear is true, grownups do not give a rats ass what you have to say. So I laughed and commented on how very young you are and then went upstairs to enjoy my cold sesame noodles.

But I will give you credit for one thing, poor sad teenager who thinks he knows so much, you did make me think. I mean, after I played a few useless rounds of Candy Crush Saga (STILL can't beat 65!), watched the first half of Anchorman ("Stay classy San Diego") and took a twenty minute power nap. Then you made me think. 

My husband, you know, the six foot tall guy with the karate black belt and the jiu-jitsu purple belt, who is literally double your size was right across the street when you made your funny little comment. Would you have been so brave had he been a little closer? (Forget all the crazy skills that I also possess, there was obviously no way for you to know that I too could choke you out.) And my five and a half year old. She was there too. Would you have dared to say those words in earshot of my child, which by the way would have resulted in a very, very different response from me? 

I bet you have a mother too, right upstairs. How would she feel to know that her son thinks its ok to make insulting comments at perfect strangers, adult female strangers at that? At someone's mother. And how do I raise my daughter in such a way that she always has enough respect while out with her own teenage buddies that it would never even occur to her to do that? That she has enough imagination to come up with a better way to entertain herself. That she thinks highly enough of herself that she never has to bring others down just prove her own worth.

Thank god for karate.

And then I thought of this new boy who just joined our dojo, a very sweet, respectful thirteen year old, and wondered if he was a completely different person when he was out on a summer afternoon with his friends. 

And then I wondered if you talked to other teenagers that way, to the girls in your class, even, and how they would laugh and turn away but a few of them might take your words to heart and feel a little knot in their belly all day. And how you would never even know.

And then I was reminded how very awful it is to be a teenager, to be so lost and confused and full of angst and hormones and to want so very badly for someone to give a shit what you have to say. To think you know everything about the world, when really you know so, so little.  And I realized what of course all grownups know, that the only thing that cures the problems of youth is to no longer be young.

So I just laughed at you, silly boy with your scooter, trying so hard to be intimidating. I get you. I understand. It is so so hard to be you.

However, I will be taking my daughter to the playground this afternoon. With my husband, you know, the big guy with the BJJ t-shirt. Maybe I'll see you there?

By the way, I know karate.


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