I planned to post a list of books I read and reference quite often. A few of you asked for recommendations and I decided to share the generated list with everyone, instead of just the few. I am still gathering titles for list. I never realized how interesting and fun it is to culminate the books I devoured over the last several years. This list just grows and grows and grows. Hopefully, I'll finish it and post the list in a few days. In the mean time, I choose to share a quick story.
Earlier this evening, my mom, two young girls visiting from Georgia, and I walked to the little popcorn shop a couple of blocks away. I live in a quaint neighborhood with a small town square lined with adorable boutiques, an antiqued ice cream shop complete with marble counter tops and floors and hot pink decor, and a local fire station that looks as if it jumped out of the pages of a story book. The square hosts a lively farmer's market on Sunday. All throughout the summer, kids of all ages walk and run through the streets and during the school year, dash to the popcorn shop right after the dismissal bell rings. Kids and adults alike gather around the wrought iron tables perfectly placed in front of the popcorn shop and munch on popcorn and slurp Hawaiian shave ice. Yes, apparently it is shave ice, not shaved ice.
We ventured up for the shave ice and some truffle popcorn. Since the town is quite old, some businesses are grandfathered in and, therefore, aren't require to meet disability law. Most of the establishments are accessible, but the few that aren't either have a portable ramp or offer to help lift my chair up the two or three steps. Tonight I opted to sit outside while my mom and the young ones ordered and collected our goodies. The weather is perfectly warm with a nice breeze and very low humidity. Rain dominated the forecast since the beginning of July and finally stopped a couple of days ago. I was happy to sit with Belle and enjoy the early evening. I sat waiting at one of the iron tables, while a group of three boys sat at the other table. They appeared to be in between their eighth and ninth grade years of school.
Sometimes kids this age are given a hard time. Teenagers, as they are called, get a bad wrap. Adults seem to forget we were once this age and act as if teenage behavior is some foreign, unknown phenomenon from beyond. When, in reality, the behavior teenagers exhibit is just a normal part of the growth process. They are just kids struggling to find their ground while swimming in the murky waters of too young for certain things and too old for other things. Waffling between adulthood and childhood is tricky business. Attitudes form because they are just trying to figure it all out. As adults, we should give them a break. I know most of us know just how hard it is to be thirteen and fourteen and fifteen and so on. Insecurity takes hold in the form of pimples, body changes, and the desire to want to be like everyone else. I also notice discussion centered around how disconnected today's kids are. I hear comments like, they are attached to their phones and they can't communicate unless the communication takes place through a device. This kind of talk really bugs me. As a former teacher and nanny, I do admit I have a bias towards kids of all ages, but this generation of young people isn't any worse off than any other generation. All generations have distractions. Teaching self control is part of life, whatever the distractions happen to be. Kids aren't anymore distracted today than they were when I was hooked to the Nintendo or gabbing on the land line phone. In fact, I notice the opposite with the kids navigating today's world. I notice kids who are more aware, friendlier, and far more open to difference than ever before.
I've stated this a few times, but once again, I feel truly blessed because I see humanity at its best. Just as adults rush to help out, kids and teenagers also run to hold doors and help push my chair up icy ramps. This particular group of boys, hanging out in front of the popcorn shop, enjoying popcorn and Fanta Grape Soda, were no exception. Right away, the boys commented on my dog and shared how cute they think she is. They made direct eye contact with me and shared stories about their own dogs and answered my questions in complete sentences. I learned what high school they will attend in the fall and heard tales of recent summer adventures. The boys showed me tricks with their straws and fed my dog pieces of popcorn. Not once did any of them take out a smart phone or attempt to send a text. They were alert, kind, and pleasant. My disability was a non issue and never mentioned or even noticed. And when my mom and the young girls walked down the steps, headed over to the table and placed the newly purchased treats on the table, these boys, these teenage boys, noticed there was only one available chair left. Each boy jumped out of his seat and offered his chair. They cleaned up their mess, throwing away napkins, straws, and popcorn bags. And as they walked away, they turned around, looked directly at me, and said, "It was nice to talking to you."
I don't know why there is so much suffering in this world. I can't explain why bad things happen. I certainly worry about the world we are leaving behind, the world we are leaving these kids. But, what I do know, what I don't worry about, is the kids inheriting this world, the kids tasked with handling and accepting the future, they are just fine. They are confident, polite, chivalrous, friendly, and kind. The kids are all right.