Friday, June 28, 2013

Teen Trends: Stupid Is as Stupid Does

Most days, I pick up my teenage daughter from high school. I'm fortunate (she's fortunate) because I run my ad agency from a home office and can slip out for twenty minutes without too much trouble. Her school is 1.5 miles away and last September's grand plan of a nice fitness walk every afternoon didn't last very long.

Anyway, the most convenient place to collect my little scholar is behind the school in the parking lot of our town's post office. There's a path that leads uphill to the football field and another that heads down into a wooded area.

That's where "the stoners" hang out.

It's strange to see kids (young adults really but some I've known since preschool) pair off and slip away together. Are they smoking dope? Drinking? Making out? Worse? I'm tempted to follow them. I'm tempted to call their mothers. I stay in the car.

My own daughter doesn't have time (or, thank goodness) the inclination to participate in this particular after-school program. I've made it very clear that her riding and lessons and shows and out-of-state horsemanship clinics are dependent on schoolwork getting done and good grades getting got. This is not negotiable. I'm very lucky that she understands and agrees. I'm also lucky because her friends, although mind-bogglingly silly at times, don't seem to be that type of party people. (I know I could be wrong, but in truth, I trust her. And — knock wood — we haven't had any problems. Yet.)

So many teens do so many stupid things. As a hopelessly out-of-touch middle-aged mom, I can't even keep up. In fact, when I try to stay on top of the latest trends of teenage self-destruction, I give myself a headache. 

Last year, I wrote about "The Cinnamon Challenge." Here are just a handful of new ideas to worry about:

"Planking" — Kids lie horizontally, holding their bodies stiff like a board (or, more aptly, a plank), balancing on random objects. Counters, bannisters, shopping carts. Pictures are taken and posted; the aim is to get lots of hits and shares and likes and comments. Sounds fairly harmless, but a teenager actually died when he planked and then fell off a seven-story balcony rail.

At this point: full disclosure. My daughter has been known to plank but not from death-defying heights. Phew.

"Eyeballing Vodka" — Okay, before I describe this, can I just say "Eeww!" Teens actually pour shots of vodka into their eyes. The blood vessels of the eyeball quickly absorb the alcohol and the result is immediate intoxication. The upside? It's easy to hide because there's no tell-tale booze breath. The downside? Oh, nothing to worry about ... just permanent corneal damage and blindness.

People, c'mon!

"The Choking Game" — Y'know that rush you get after you've hung yourself and your friend has cut you down and revived you? No? Me neither. (WTF???) Whether kids play the choking game because of thrill-seeking or boredom or peer pressure, it's very real and an estimated 500-1,000 teens will die doing so. Oh, and that rush I mentioned? It's brain cells dying from a lack of oxygen.

One might argue that there may have been a distinct lack of brain cells to begin with. But, that wouldn't be consolation for the families of those kids.

The most recent trend that my own daughter introduced me to (as in told me about, not participated in, thank you God) is called "Smoking Alcohol." The name says it all and it's all over YouTube. Kids take alcohol (any sort works) and pump air into it then inhale the fumes. The alcohol vapor goes directly to the brain; the effect is instantaneous. Everything the body does to absorb and process (or expel) the alcohol you drink is bypassed. So, alcohol poisoning, prevalent enough in teenagers who imbibe the old-fashioned way, occurs dangerously fast.

Thinking about all of this is difficult; talking about it with our teens is absolutely critical.

Yesterday afternoon, my daughter took her final freshman final. Afterwards, I asked her what she wanted to do to celebrate. Go somewhere, do something? What was she craving more than anything else? 

Her answer: "Chocolate chip cookie dough."

Amen, sister.

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