I've been hanging out with high school students lately. There are three HS kids in the chorus of the opera I'm doing. When I discovered that they were having one parent drive the 40 or so miles to drop them off, and then another parent come to pick them up, I offered to be their chauffeur, and now find myself driving them 45 minutes each way to and from rehearsal. They help out with gas money (hooray!) and provide some interesting entertainment (and sometimes conversation, but often I am just a listener). And yesterday they talked me in to stopping at Krispy Kreme on the way home. Yum.
Anyhow, it has been interesting, to say the least. They are good kids. This chance to be in the chorus of an opera with professionals is a real opportunity for them. In typical high school fashion they don't quite get how lucky they are. Someday they will hopefully look back on this and think "wow, that was amazing! And how lucky I was that my parents allowed me to do that." But maybe not. These kids come from privelege that is hard for me to imagine. They talk about their friends getting a new Mercedes for their 16th birthday. I was 28 before I had a car I could call my own. They debate whether to go to NYC or Cabo for their spring break. They talk about the hundreds of dollars they are spending for their homecoming.
They make fun of kids at their schools. They make fun of people in the opera. They discuss who is cute and who is not. They talk about their parents and their teachers and their homework and about who shows up drunk at the football games. Mostly I just listen, and try not to judge. I know it is a rare chance to get this glimpse into their lives. I know that they are aware that there is an adult in the car and surely edit themselves at some points, but I probably hear more than their parents do. I don't want to break that trust by judging who they are. And really, was I any different when I was in high school? How many things did I take for granted? How many people did I make fun of, not thinking of how unkind it was? How often did I say something I didn't really mean for the benefit of "entertaining" a friend? How often did I assume my parents didn't get me, or didn't care?
As I said, they are good kids. They essentially work hard and are trying to play things pretty straight. But they are teenagers. They are trying to figure out life and love and friendships and who they are. I know that to step in too much, to interrupt the process, won't help. Unless they really cross a line, these minor things... the dissing of the parents, the laughing at the clothes, the focus on the superficial... will likely work themselves out. I know they did for me. But oh how I wish I could save them some of the work. That I could impart on them what wisdom I think I have, the things I have learned since I was 15.
But they have to ride that ride themselves. I am just a temporary chauffeur.
and on a totally different subject:
A dear, dear IRL friend of mine has just started her very own blog (she has succumbed to our evil brainwashing...bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha). She is remarkably well read, well spoken, and the best writer of letters on real actual paper that I have ever met. And she used to watch The May Queen for me all the time when she was an infant. She and her new baby now live on the other side of an ocean (boo-hoo) so I can't return the favor, but I can tell you all to go visit her at her new blog On Dragonfly Wings. Leave her a nice welcoming note for me, will you? And I'm sure you'll want to keep going back. She's the next new hot blogger, I know it. And you can say you knew her when.