This morning I had the good fortune to play tennis with a recent high school graduate. Why good fortune? Have you spent time with a teenager lately? I mean, have you sat down and listened to them, really listened. Teens (rightly) believe that they can change the world. Their enthusiasm is contagious and they don’t see the boundaries that we sadly erect in our adult lives.
As I asked her about her day she mentioned that her father drove to work. She thought he should walk, drive or take the bus. “Because of the environment?” I asked her, maybe a little too hopefully.
“No, because it’s good to be outside.” She looked at me like I was from another planet. I started to defend her father. I stammered, “Uh, it’s really quite complicated.” Then I realized that I sounded like Charlie Sheen’s ex-wife and I hung it up.
It took me a good bit of time before the comment truly settled in. A few days later I asked my own daughter, who is half the teen’s age what she thought we could do about the environment and she rattled off a lovely list that included minutia both hysterical and hideous:
- no more electric pencil sharpeners (OMG how obvious!)
- Plant a tree every day (I’m not Johnny Appleseed but maybe a little more gardening is in order)
- The dishwasher is bad (she’s wrong – I owe you a post on that, but hey she’s only 9)
- The dishwasher soap doesn’t break down for 15 years (yeah baby, I’ve got a smart one on my hands)
- Play pretend instead of using plastic houses (and I swoon….)
- No more paper napkins
And the Pièce de résistance:
- You should buy me a Wii so you don’t have to drive me to other people’s houses to use theirs.
Stinker! No Wii for you.
When I watch my kids and listen to the teens and young adults in the neighborhood I remember to be hopeful. I remember to play and to color outside the lines. When we forget how to play and to move we pollute our neighborhoods and sequester ourselves.