September 2, 2021- The rambunctious teen ran, full tilt, into a locker. He winced, just a little, and momentarily looked puzzled: “Wow, that hurt!” My response: “Ya think?” He walked towards the classroom door, as I sized up both him and the locker for any indicators of damage. As there was none, I had him take his seat and thirty-two of us slowly, but earnestly, started class.
High School freshmen can be a lot like toddlers in pre-school, trying out several advanced roles, whilst not entirely wanting to give up their immature selves. College freshmen often mimic the same behaviours. For many, this doesn’t last very long, especially as the reality that being able to participate in sports or other interests depends on keeping grades up or that love interests may well have the expectation of a higher level of maturity.
There are always the goofs, though, and walking them through the transitional phase is often dependent on near magic. I have met some of these same types, a few years down the road. Those whose next encounter with me didn’t involve them being a corpse at a funeral, or an inmate at the State Prison, had found their footing-and even if they still had their rowdy side-jumping out of airplanes or bungee jumping, they also had a sense of responsibility.
Playfulness hasn’t entirely left me. Snarky bantering happens all the time. So does lively dancing or just being silly around younger children. Somehow, though, I don’t quite see myself testing a metal locker’s tensile strength as part of my journey of exploration.