Monday, October 1, 2012

Teens Are People Too

Here's a quick question. What do you think of when you hear these nonsensical lyrics? "Wacka-doo, wacka-doo, wacka-doo." If you were a youngster in one of Metromedia's five markets in the 60s or 70s, you probably remember Bob McAllister singing "Kids Are People Too." The show was Wonderama and it was on every Sunday morning.

My dad had contacts on the Wonderama crew, so my sister and I were on the show twice. (My mother and little brother, who were waiting in the green room with other parents, were also chosen to be on the show.) One year, my sister and I competed in a "Name that Tune" sort of game. They played a snippet of music or a sound effect and we had to run down the length of the studio, grab a balloon, run back, pop it by sitting on it and announce the name of the sound or song. The one that I had was "Like a Yo-Yo" by the Osmonds. Since the only music my family listened to was showtunes and opera, I didn't recognize it. But, I still won a prize. I think it was a Talking Viewmaster Gift Pack. Or maybe it was a Super Spirograph. Cool!

The games changed each week. Sometimes there were guest stars. But, there was one thing you could count on. At the end of every episode, McAllister sang that song again.

"We may be young and not full-grown,
But we've got problems of our own.
Kids are people too.
Wacka-doo, wacka-doo, wacka-doo."

Very empowering song. You see, society needed that reminder back then; the world didn't revolve around kids quite like it does today. We wore what our parents bought for us. We did what our teachers told us to do. We weren't "wired." We didn't have millions of dollars of marketing being spent to lure us to specific mall stores, websites or movie premieres. Well, not as many millions at any rate.

Today's kids — and especially, today's teens — don't question whether or not they're "people too." They may feel victimized or marginalized at times, but they are not lacking in their sense of self. Or self-righteous entitlement. As parents we bend over backwards to give them whatever they need. (And, believe you me, the line between need and want is rather fuzzy at best.) My teen daughter and her friends are aware of the world; they're opinionated and outspoken. They believe they have the right to protest. And ... they do. Mainly to their loving mothers.

The schedule in my two-career household doesn't revolve around my husband's business trips or my clients' deadlines. It is driven by my daughter's riding lessons, homework and media preferences.

You may think that my husband and I are particularly challenged when it comes to establishing and maintaining authority. You'd be right. But, the situation is the same in the homes of pretty much all of our peers. We are all exhausted all the time and none of us has even the slightest illusion that we are in charge. 

So, for all my friends who remember Wonderama — and find themselves constantly wondering at all the drama —  I'd like to offer this little rewrite:

"We may be old and going grey 
We're just so stressed out every day,
Parents are people too.
Wacka-doo, wacka-doo, wacka-doo.
We'd be in such a better mood,
If you could ditch that attitude.
Parents are people too. 

Wacka-doo, wacka-doo, wacka-doo.
It isn't easy going all day ...
Driving you and your peeps to the games that you play
Helping with homework, carpooling at school
And trying so hard not to lose our cool.
And so we hope you'll cut us some slack
Please oh please stop talking back,
Parents are people,
Parents are people,
Parents are people too.
We're really really people too."

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