As our nation’s youth attempts to find its collective voice in the midst of our unrelenting political turmoil, I am dismayed, as a teacher, as a mom, as a human being, at the many disparaging remarks being put forth by some our more seasoned citizens. The tenor of this negativity usually attempts to discredit the sincerity of students engaged in protests and is usually punctuated by a snarky remark about Tide pods. Enough with the Tide pods, already!! Let me tell you why previous generations haven’t had their own “Tide pod scandal” laid bare for the evisceration of the masses.
a.) There were was no internet, and
b.) there were no Tide pods.
How quickly we forget all the stupid crap we attempted in our youth. Our ridiculous antics, made wholesome through the forgiving lense of nostalgia, would unquestionably have drawn the ire of the public at large had we the means of making them known. Me? I was known to eat bugs as a kid. My brother and I conducted “experiments” with the electric fence in our yard that would have made Edison flinch (fun fact: grass can conduct electricity surprisingly well). My cousin once pissed in a dial soap bottle and then put it back beside the sink. The preservation of family hygiene was due only to my grandma’s discerning eye. Why wasn’t the entire nation laughing at the idiocy of the dial soap/piss scandal? Al Gore hadn’t gotten around to inventing the internet just yet. All the grown up naysayers in this country need this reminder: only one generation has earned the moniker “The Greatest”, and odds are good it wasn’t yours.
Sure, I see cringe-worthy behavior from our kids every day. Yes, they text and drive, and snapchat their every move, and commit any number of faux pas both great and small. And yes, a few of them have even made the foolish and highly public decision to ingest toxic chemicals on the internet. But to say these shortcomings negate their collective right to voice a very real anger and frustration they have with current legislation (or lack thereof) is not just mean spirited, it’s fallacious. I don’t know any teenagers personally who have ingested Tide pods, but I do know many, many teenagers who have already done more to make the world a better place than some adults will in a lifetime.
The bottom line is this: Let the kids have their say. Give them a voice. Maybe they have done some stupid stuff, but we adults are the ones responsible for the mess they are going to inherit. We have elected the policy makers, we have squandered our resources, and we have turned a blind eye to those in need. If I got a good look at my future based on the current state of our union, perhaps I’d be scarfing down a Tide pod, too.
Traci Angelini is a mom and a teacher… and some other things, too, probably. She spends nine months out of the year running on coffee and crazy, and no, she doesn’t know when your kid’s essay will be graded, but she loves her job and relishes every minute of the summer.