For teenagers everything is a milestone and the future seems very far away.
Our pre-teen and teenage years are filled with rites of passage. There are first dates and first kisses, first jobs, big ballgames, band concerts and competitions, proms and, of course, graduation days.
As I sit writing this column my favorite little saxophone player is practicing down the hall in the living room. It’s his first year in the junior high band and while there are a few squawks and squeaks to send the cat running for cover, he continues to improve every day. The highlight of his year has been the fall concert and he and his fellow musicians have been working hard toward their moment to shine at the annual spring concert closing out the year. It’s an event he’s been looking forward to for months and one it now appears may never happen. While he’s trying hard to keep a brave face, there’s no doubt the idea of missing it has him feeling a bit down and upset.
The concert is just one of many big events we may not get to witness this school year due to the virus that has threatened our community and forced us all to keep our distance. Our local school districts are keeping all options on the table as we hurtle toward the end of another semester in unprecdented times and while no decisions have yet been made officially, some things are already being missed with the shutdown of athletics and other competitions.
I can look back with the perspective of my 41 years on the planet and see that while big and exciting, those big teenage moments were just that – moments. Though I have some fond memories of those younger days, I know they weren’t truly the best days of my life and bigger and better things were waiting down the road.
It’s a perspective none of us have when we’re growing up. Every day is a new adventure when you haven’t yet been there and done that. The things we view as minor through the lens of adulthood are enormous when you’re staring at them from the other side.
Our young people have a right to struggle with this. We don’t need to be too quick in telling them it’s really no big deal. It is for them and they’ve earned their frustration and disappointment.
We’re living in days none of us could have possibly imagined and facing a situation daily that would have sounded like insane ravings just a few months back. We need to remember to be there for the young people in our lives and do everything we can to encourage them and help them have as normal an experience as possible. In the years to come they may not remember the facts and figures about this strange period in our nation’s history, but they’ll surely remember how they felt and those who loved them and encouraged them through it all.