Saturday, June 5, 2010

Compassion for Teens?

My book, Snowstorm, is about the struggles of an angry sixteen year-old girl in a mental hospital.  She is not, according to a couple of people who have read an excerpt of the novel, a lovable character - at least not in the first few scenes of the book.  In my opinion, however, Carly and other teenagers like her evoke a great deal of compassion.  I suppose that's why I chose troubled kids as my subject matter.

I can never quite understand how adults who found the antics of a toddler endearing, suddenly have no tolerance for the same kinds of foolishness in an adolescent.  Now, I do get that the teenager is larger and can do more damage, but it seems like so many people miss the point. 

When Mom is talking on the phone to a colleague, and her four year-old taps her on the shoulder over and over, Mom understands that the child wants attention.  She also knows that if she doesn't deal with her son in some way, he will escalate to crying or screaming. Why then do Mom and Dad not seem to understand that if they've been working late every night of the week, their teenage son may call them at work a dozen times in an effort to connect.  And like the little child ten years ago, if the parent just gets aggravated without giving the young man some time, he is likely to escalate his efforts by going out with friends without permission.

I guess I just expect adults to see that even in an almost-adult body, a teenager is just a larger version of that same little girl or boy who needed his mom or dad so much.  It's the same child, still asking for attention, and to me that young adult needs more understanding than ever.

Of course, I happen to like teenagers.

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