I love teenagers. I adore them in exactly the same way most people love toddlers. They really are so very much the same. They are goofy and silly and awkward in their own bodies. They are easily confused and constantly distracted. They fall down a lot. They are prone to temper-tantrums. They over-react and over-celebrate, and if you catch them in the right mood, they have an over-flow of love to share. They say things so ridiculous it’s just hilarious. (For a developmental check-in, read: 10 Things You Can't Expect from a Teenager.)
I love teenagers—and want so desperately to protect them—because they are full of hope. They can’t help it. It is their lot in life. Because they are not fully grown, because they are not fully independent, every pore of their collective being teems with possibility. Teenagers—even when they adopt attitudes of contempt and threaten to grow bitter before their time—believe in the future.
Anything is possible, as far as they know. As much as it scares them, they enjoy looking into the next several decades and imagining what might be. They rarely see student-loan debt or complicated relationships or broken dreams. At 14 and 16 and 18 and even 22, they look into the future and see themselves as professional magicians, race-car drivers, athletes, fighter pilots, artists and activists. They believe—really, really believe, and nothing the cynical adult world does can shake them of this notion—that they will make the world a better place. It’s very nice to spend time with people who have this attitude.
Don’t get me wrong; teenagers piss me off, frustrate me and disappoint me every day. They’re just so darned adolescent all the time. So it’s good to remind myself, as often as I can, what it is I actually like about them. I encourage you to do the same.