This afternoon I was at school, chatting with a couple of boys from choir while we waited for the girls to finish rehearsing a dance number. Suddenly, a petite blond comes dashing up, jabbering frantically.
“I’m supposed to take a make up math test RIGHT NOW, and I just got my PERIOD, and I’m like, just GUSHING all over my clothes, and I HAVE to go home, and I’m, like SO SCARED to tell Mr. Boone I can’t take the test because he’s ALREADY mad at me, and I don’t know WHAT to say, and I REALLY NEED you to go with me to talk to him RIGHT NOW!!!!”
Now, I’ve known Kayla since she was in 6th grade, I know her mother and her grandmother, but she wasn’t turning to me for help with her feminine problems. No, throughout her entire diatribe, she was staring right at Robert, her 17 year old male classmate. Robert gave me a rather sheepish look, shrugged his shoulders, and went out the door with his distraught charge.
Brian, the other boy witnessing this drama, looked puzzled. “What was that all about?” he asked innocently. “I couldn’t understand a word she was saying.”
I don’t know about you, but when I was 17 and in high school, I would rather have died a thousand deaths than admit to a boy in my class that I was having my period, much less that I was “gushing all over my clothes” and had to go home and change. Obviously, times have changed. Even the fact that I’m writing “publicly” about a subject once considered completely taboo is proof that I myself have entered this “brave new world” where nothing is sacred. And the reaction of the boys involved today was interesting as well. Robert seemed relatively non-plussed about his role in this little drama. And when I attempted to explain Kayla’s request to Brian (in as delicate a terms as I could manage), he finally nodded knowingly. “Well, Mrs. Rowan, it’s okay that she asked Robert, because he’s…well…you know…gay.”
Admittedly, Kayla is a Drama Queen par excellence. This girl has some kind of crisis every single day ~ last week, she came running into the auditorium and literally fell to her knees in the middle of the aisle, sobbing hysterically because she had just found out her boyfriend’s parents were getting divorced. She has no control of her emotions, no sense of appropriate response or behavior, and reacts all out of proportion to the event. Honestly, she can be a real pain in the butt.
However, she’s also a bit scary. Young people who have trouble controlling their emotions are prone to drastic actions that can be dangerous to body and mind. At least Kayla doesn’t keep her feelings bottled up inside until they erupt into self destructive behaviors ~ like my friend Liz (who incidentally is still in very grave danger as I write…but that’s another story entirely). I can’t help but wonder if this brave new world where anything goes is more than a little overwhelming to teenagers. It seems they’re almost expected to have some sort of angst in their lives in order to “fit in” with all the celebrity “crisis du jour.” Last year, Kayla had a bout with anorexia. Robert (and Michael and Dan) are dealing with sexual identity issues. Katie is bi-polar, Rose just celebrated one year of sobriety, and Jessica’s boyfriend is in jail for child molestation. And these are just the kids I know from sixth hour choir.
The world is certainly different. I know I’m showing my age with statements like that. I don’t know how “brave” the world itself is, but I think you have to be very brave to grow up in it.