teenage wasteland?

two of my students sat musing with boys and a small cat beneath a tree in front of the building where i teach. they saw me walk past. and they did not come to class. maybe they were getting high. maybe they were high on freedom and the spectacle of defiance. if i didn’t see it as sad, i’d actually find it kind of endearing, a little amusing — in that way that little kids seeking attention can’t help but be somewhat funny and cute in a very ‘textbook’ behavior kind of way.

eighteen. too cool for school. skipping class. not seeing beyond a moment of freedom, not yet under enough pressure to feel the weight of actions or to recognize the place of each – a link – in the larger chain of events that can determine your future.

but it’s not cute when the young women are precariously close to the edge, precariously close to failing. and it’s not cute when just a few days earlier they performed very well in class.

are some young minds so unaccustomed to contributing positively, to making a significant difference, that they have to retreat afterward? is that how it works? is it that if you’re accustomed to being seen as a poor student, a defiant teen, a troublemaker – or worse – you find it too foreign to bear when someone discovers that you’re insightful and smart after all?