What every teenager wants

Posted 12/8/21

Teenagers may be the forgotten minority.  They are too old to be cute, cuddly, precocious and endearing.  More often than not, they are seen as sullen, demanding, temperamental, rebellious, …

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What every teenager wants


Teenagers may be the forgotten minority.  They are too old to be cute, cuddly, precocious and endearing.  More often than not, they are seen as sullen, demanding, temperamental, rebellious, egotistical, and maladjusted, negative attributes that can be viewed in an undesirable light.  For most teenagers, the opposite is true.

Ann Marie has two teenagers, a thirteen-year-old daughter, Julianna and a sixteen-year-old son, Franklin.  Since their step-father left two years ago, she has worked two minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. Franklin works at Burger King after school and on weekends, and still manages to keep up with his good grades.  Julianna cares for the house and cooking, cleaning when she comes home from school and making a quick supper for her mom to eat when she comes home to change jobs. It may only be grilled cheese sandwiches and canned peaches, but it is relatively healthy.  Since COVID, both teens have lost touch with their friends.  They have not seen their supportive grandparents in more than two years. They try to stay upbeat around their mom because she is working so hard, but they are lonely and isolated.

Regina is a sixty-seven-year-old mother whose daughter contracted COVID.  Her grandsons, Rick and John, ages fourteen and fifteen, have been staying with her for the past six months. Her only income is from Social Security, which she tries to stretch to pay the bills, but feeding two additional teenagers is a challenge.  The food pantry of their local church supplies her with five bags of groceries, for which she is grateful.  The boys have not been troublemakers, although they do squabble a little bit when asked to clean their rooms or do the dishes.  They missed their mom, and worried constantly that she would not get well.  Unfortunately, she did not.  She died about a month ago, and they have been grieving ever since.

Since his wife left four years ago, Rob has been caring for his three children, including two teenage girls. Because he works so much, the girls care for their younger brother after school. During COVID, they are not allowed over their friends’ houses, but they do use social media to text and video chat with them.  Rob sometimes brings home pizza or Chinese food when he comes home from work, although more often than not, the girls make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or eat breakfast cereal for dinner.  Fueled by inertia, all three children spend their time on the couch watching television.

Paul and Karen both work and leave their teenager daughter home alone.  She may often be sullen and disagreeable, but like the other teenagers, she is depressed that COVID has taken over her carefree life.  She does have a friend from church with whom she texts and plays “Words with Friends”, and this provides her with incentive to attend their church service every Sunday, albeit socially distant and wearing a mask. She waves at her friend from afar, and smiles, even though when wearing a mask, it cannot be seen.

These are some of the children for whom my church is providing Christmas gifts.  Their Christmas wish lists are identical as they have all asked for gift cards.  This request interferes with my wish to purchase fun things for them; games, make-up, remote control cars, scented body sprays, basketballs and hoodies.  However, during these COVID times where they have no control over anything else, they are asking for the one thing over which they can have control-gift cards to choose what they want for a gift.  I selfishly sighed at this request because then there is no exciting shopping spree for me. However, their request is understandable.

It would be awesome if members of our community could reach out to the churches and organizations that are collecting Christmas gifts for children.  Teenagers are STILL children, and even though they are not fun to purchase, donated gift cards make the best gifts.


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