Wednesday, October 14, 2009


High school girls still do their nails!

Now that I have two kids in high school I'm pretty much an expert on the topic. Especially since I have both a boy and a girl there. Yes, two is definitely a statistically significant number when n is 2 and N is a bazillion. I learned that in statistics.

Anyhoo, here are a few observations in case you do not have a high schooler in your life and you would like to be in the know or a real "hep cat".

1. First of all, no one says real hep cat. I'm not sure anyone ever did.

2. Hugging: hugging is very big in high school. Girls hug boys, boys hug boys, but most of all girls hug girls. They hug good morning and good bye. They hug when they run into each other in stores. They hug because they can. We never hugged. We only hugged people we were dating or when we said goodbye to friends at the end of the summer. No, not even then. We were repressed and more than a little homo-phobic. They are not. They are like Europeans or something--all this touching and hand-holding and cheek-kissing. I think this is a great development because it's healthy to hug and be hugged. Yet in our culture after hugging, snuggling and petting our kids like kittens for the first 10 years of their life we drop them like lepers when they hit puberty. No wonder they're in need of a hug! All this innocent hugging they do, I would think, could even postpone the inevitable "advanced hugging" which is what kids who crave affection often get into.

3. Dating: no one goes out on a date. Not like we did. No one. I repeat, no one calls a girl on the house phone (yes, that's what they call that thing plugged into your kitchen wall) and says, "Hello Debbie, would you care to go to a movie with me on Friday?" (partly because no one is named Debbie anymore. What happened to all the Debbies?) No. High schoolers tend to travel in packs and then sort of peel off unofficially to do their he-ing and she-ing. So the dating looks more like a pack of antelope heading off to the watering hole. If anyone is "asking" anyone on a date, it will take place in the form of a text or a message on Facebook. "Do u wanna go to da movies?" which means dads can no longer terrorize potential suitors calling daughters and they will never have the chance to yell "Tell that kid not to honk his horn anymore," because kids don't honk their horns in the driveway anymore they text each other.

4. They are much, much more connected than we were: With the aid of texting and "social media" (that means Facebook and MySpace) the kids all know where everyone is at any moment. And what they are doing. All the time. That's why as you drive to grandma and grandpa's for Christmas you will know that Maggie is on her way to see her grandparents in Ohio and Sam is going out to the movies with a bunch of friends, and Michael is skiing in Colorado. I kind of like this too. Somehow it takes away a little of the sting of having to spend long periods of time with your own family (don't pretend you don't remember that feeling.)

5. They are better friends than we were: Yes, I have to say that despite my concern that all this electronic communicating would result in the death of verbal communication and the decline of western society in general it doesn't seem to be the case. In fact, the opposite seems to have occurred. With all this connecting it is even easier to check on a sick friend, help a friend who forgot her homework, plot to decorate a locker for a birthday, and make plans to watch a friend at a swim meet. These things just lend themselves to a casual text whereas several separate phone calls might be just enough of an obstacle to pass on the whole thing.

6. They "joke" in electronic ways and they are dang funny: Have you been "rick roll'd"? Well that's what happens when a friend sends you an email with a link that might say "check out this video it's so cool funnycats dancing" But when you click on it (and I hope you will) you get transferred to a YouTube video of Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up" which is quite possibly the most atrocious, cheesey, music video ever made. They pass along YouTube videos and jokes just like your friends do but theirs tend to be a little more culturally relevant than those ladies from the 30's doing that freaky circus barn dance.

7. Some things never change: Even though a lot of things have changed a lot of things haven't. There are still burnouts, now called "emo", and jocks and cheerleaders and the usual assortment of nerds --drama, band, chess club. And even though a lot of the lingo has changed a lot of it hasn't. Just the other day the kids were discussing a girl in their school who dresses inappropriately. Too short, too tight, too much. You get the idea. Atticus said, "We have a name for girls like that." I leaned in close, eager to hear the latest slang for "girls like that". "Really?" I asked, "What is it?" He knows I fancy myself a student of current slang and he knows he is one of the few translators that I have. So he grinned as he shared it with me, "Whore."


  1. OMG!! LOL!! J/K
    So true about the hugging!!

  2. Europe isn't one country with one culture, as you of all people should know.

    I suppose generally South of Paris they hug each other a lot (a colleague from Suriname was surprised by Portuguese hugging each other every morning at work), but certainly not in these parts of Europe (Netherlands).

    But I had an English colleague once who found shaking hands to congratulate someone at one's birthday already a wild ride.

    And people I know who have worked in Scandinavia said that compared to them even the Dutch appear wildly extravert.

  3. Oh my Dutch friend you are so right! Goodness knows I've tried to hug enough of you Dutch boys to know better. Dennis is the worst--like a board with his arms at his side. I should have said Spaniards as I have been hugged and double-cheek-kissed enough by them.

  4. hahaha"...shaking hands...a wild ride..."
    btw I heard Dick Van Dyke say "hep cat" once in a very old movie.

  5. Real hep cat? That was WAY before MY time! And I am a child of the '60s. Fab! Groovy! Far out! (No one says those any more, either.)

    These kids ARE more connected than we were, but I feel they are far less verbal and less articulate. We actually talked to our friends non-stop whenever we saw them. These kids are glued to their phones and texting devices and sometimes don't even watch where they're walking. "Don't drink and drive" is becoming "Don't text and drive" at our school. And the spelling--is it going the way of texting? I see it sometimes on students' papers. They don't believe in caps and punctuation the way we were forced to.

    Hugging--some kids want hugs even from their teachers. And that's something we teachers are really not supposed to do, but if one asks, how can you turn it down? I always make sure that we're not alone, but I'm old enough to be their mother (at least). But according to Jay Leno, student/teacher relationships can always end up somewhere else.