Kids These Days…

At the risk of sounding like one of those crazy, old, “get off my lawn!” geezers, I’m gonna talk about kids these days. Specifically… teenagers. I was a teenager once, I coach teenagers, I worked with the teenager girls in church for a few years, I teach teenagers… So, yeah. I’m an expert on teenagers. Pretty much.

I have these two girls on my high school color guard. Neither girl would be considered a star performer. They aren’t bad at all. They just aren’t great. I have some girls on my guard that are great. These two girls aren’t girls I would give a solo to and they often have to be given extra instruction and corrected many times before they fix a technique issue. There is a huge difference in these two girls, however, and that is desire.

One girl wants to be great. I mean, she really, really wants it. She takes her equipment home every day and practices every. single. day. She hasn’t been put on the weapons line yet, but she still works on her rifle and sabre technique. She goes with other girls to practice in the park. She signed up to help teach at a middle school and an elementary school so she could learn how to write choreography and how to teach basics, all while improving her own. Over the summer, she traveled to California to attend a clinic put on by the Blue Devils (one the best drum corps out there who has, hands down, the best color guard). I don’t think there is a single girl on my guard who wants it more than this girl. She will do anything to improve. She has made goals to be in a drum corps and wants to teach guard one day. She wants this.

The other girl has been doing dance and guard for a while, and she says she loves it and guard is her life. But I have noticed that rather than wanting this, she expects it. She expects that because she is an upperclassman, she will be on the weapons line. She expects that because she has been dancing for x many more years than someone else, then she should be the dance captain. She expects to come to rehearsal and learn all the technique and all the choreography and just be able to do it. She rarely takes her equipment home, and she rarely spends any time practicing (I’ve taught guard and private music lessons long enough, I know when a student has practiced.). She skips rehearsal because she’s “sick” or “has too much homework”. She never volunteers her time to help other, newer, younger students out. She trash talks the student leadership and acts as if she could do a better job, but never applies for the position herself. She gossips about her fellow members rather than calls them to meet with them. She never tries to do anything extra. She just expects that she will get it. She expects that leadership positions will be given to her. She expects that people will respect her because of the years of “experience”. She says she wants it, but she has shown me that she expects it and isn’t willing to actually work for it.

In my middle school guard, I have many girls who leave rehearsal frustrated and upset. They come to me and say, “I’m no good at this! I’m not a natural. I want to quit. This isn’t fun.” This is after the first or second rehearsal, friends. Not at the end of the season. No one is good at color guard in the first rehearsal! No one is a natural! It is not natural to spin a flag or toss a rifle. These are techniques and skills that have to be taught, worked at, practiced, and perfected over a long period of time. These girls expect to come to rehearsal and just get it and have tons of fun. I have to teach them that if you don’t have to work for it, it’s not worth doing. No one has told them that.

It’s a shame, really, because I see so much talent and promise in these middle school girls and so much talent and promise in those high school girls. But when they just expect it to happen? That’s when things don’t happen. Rather than taking their lack of training or ability as a kick in the butt to work harder, they whine and cry and threaten to quit. Many girls do quit. They won’t put in the effort. They just don’t want it. And that makes me sad.

I don’t expect anything. Ever. It really isn’t worth having if it’s handed to me and I don’t have to work for it. I can’t savor my success the same way as when I know I have put in all my effort and all my desire. The result is truly sweet when I get my wants that I’ve worked for.

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3 responses to “Kids These Days…

    • We don’t give them everything. We make them work for it. For example… (with my guard again): It’s $400 to participate in winter guard at my high school. If it’s my daughter, I tell her she has to pay at least $200 of that. If she has to pay some of the money, it’s going to mean more to her and she’ll work harder. But if I’m constantly just shelling out money for her to participate in guard and go on band trips and buy t-shirts at every competition and so on, she’s going to expect these things to be given to her always and she won’t feel the need to work for it.

      My best students were my poor students. The ones who went to the “ghetto” school and 90% of the parents were never seen. Nothing was ever handed to those kids. They had to work 5 times as hard as the kids at other schools to achieve half of what the other schools achieved. But you know what? It made it that much more special and it stayed with them longer.

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