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The problem with kids these days.

by Dear Jon
September 6, 2001

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80th Sort_Dear Jon-The problem with kids these days. ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

I believe the phrase "Love means never having to say you're sorry," really means "Love means never making someone say 'I'm sorry.'" Or to put it biblically, "Love believes all things, endures all things..." Love is not about saying you're sorry, but forgiving those that wronged you, regardless of whether or not they said they were sorry.

Two Cents Worth

Dear Worth, Sorry but I would only give you a penny for this thought. If the statement, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," really means "Love means never making someone say 'I'm sorry'" then that is what they should have said. I agree that the second statement is a better definition than the first, but I disagree that the first statement intends anything like the second statement.


Dear Jon,

Does milk really go bad on its expiration date? How do dairy farms know what day my milk is going to expire?

Old Milk

Dear Old, I hope milk does not go bad on its expiration date, because I've just poured some on my Cap'n Crunch, and it had expired August 28.

They set expiration dates the same way that other food manufacturers do, silly. The growers and packers of food do not know enough on their own. They ask their Compliance Attorneys to research the federal, state and local regulations, and when the Compliance Attorneys are stumped, they ask the inspectors at each level to interpret their own voluminous codes while the milk sits in a cooled storage tank. After no one returns their calls for five days, the farmer and the packager glance at each other, shrug their shoulders, and say, "I reckon about two weeks from now." "Yup."


I admire child peformers who play children and are (or were) very good at it--in recent years, Haley Joel Osment, Elijah Wood, Macauley Culkin, Brad Renfro, long ago, Margaret O'Brien and Dean Stockwell. But the other night I saw a pre-pubescent boy strutting around the Ford Theatre stage in imitation of adult rock stars, with their moves, and being taken seriously as a performer by the distinguished audience. He could sing and move, all right, but he definitely was not acting his age. It looked unwholesome and embarassing to me. Whether he understands it or not, he is being exploited.

Am I out of step? Do I need to get with the program?


Dear Redux,

Your letter is very interesting. Thank you for letting me know what you admire. I'm curious: Do you think Eminem acts his age?

If you are worried you are out of step, let me give you a clue about kids in the United States:

First of all, major universities give kids the opportunity to represent their schools in team competition. Some of these competitions, like the Semi-Conductor Design Championships, are only covered by trade journals and do not get wide press or stir public enthusiasm. Other competitions, like men's basketball, receive so much press and stir so much enthusiasm, that the universities are able to sell games and advertising, raising millions of dollars. Of course, these games must be televised at times that are convenient for working adults. So college kids are asked to travel great distances to play in games that begin at 9 PM EST in the middle of the academic week, and over the Christmas holidays.

However, these kids, what with all the press and everything, have the privilege of having every appointment with the Dean given a special bulletin by ESPN. Furthermore, these youths, privileged with "free" college education on scholarship, must adhere to the following rules: Only Mamma can give them spending money. Of course, Mamma is on food stamps and has six other children to worry about, but that is not the problem of the NCAA, Coca-Cola, or ABC/Disney, nor any of their subsidiaries. The conduct of these kids, on the court, must strictly adhere to the social conventions of the suburban middle class, because it is the suburbanites who have cable, after all; and, by agreeing to suit up, they are announcing to the whole world that they are a brand new person, not at all the same person whose juvenile record was just expunged on their 18th birthday.

But the good news is, that many of our youth's "hoop dreams" won't be realized, because now, states have gotten on the bandwagon of charging kids as adults. So the 15 year-old middle child in a family of 9, who was threatened into a gang because he had no trustworthy male role models to support his stand against the pressure, and who happened to be in the car when the idiot with a shot-gun thought he spotted a rival signal, but missed the kid on the corner waving at them and happened to kill the baby in the stroller instead, this 15 year-old can now be the dupe for the shot-gun wielder's plea-bargain, charged as an adult, locked up, with the key thrown away.

Not that I'm criticizing our legal system, or our public's thirst for blood. After all, Illinois Governor George Ryan suspended the death penalty when 11, (yes, ELEVEN) people were released from Death Row based on new (oops) evidence. So things are getting better, right? This is making prosecutors in other states, like Texas, more careful. Right? Which means we're only killing GUILTY people now, right?

Meanwhile, back on National Television, we have an over-age illegal immigrant, suspected to be both by millions, pitching a baseball game, while Little League officials and the Immigration and Naturalization Service do....what, exactly?

But you got to hand it to the Denver police and prosecutors. They botched the Jon Benet Ramsay investigation so bad, all they can do now is continue a smear campaign against her parents while they blame each other for indecision and incompetence. The only way the perp gets caught, is when he does it somewhere else and confesses to both, plus 10 or 15 others.

Are you up to speed about our culture and its kids yet? Are you with the program?

Your concern seems to be that children are being sexualized at younger and younger ages. I suppose that's a big problem. I don't know that it's much worse than all the other problems. Basically, our youth-oriented culture encourages impulse buying, adolescent romantic ideals, instant gratification, and indulgent leniency in respect to manners, maturity, and authority. We then punish, to the full extent of the law, the consequences of our conditioning. We then wonder why 10th graders walk into school libraries and start shooting. We wonder how Eminem can be so popular. We wonder, during traffic lights on our way to the mall.

Frankly, I have some thoughts about this, and you decide whether I'm kidding. You decide whether this is old Dear Jon being funny.

The age of majority should be 16. No exceptions. No extensions. At 16, you are old enough to drive, to drop out of school, to work full-time, to buy cigarettes, to drink alcohol, to have sex and have it on camera, to get married, to VOTE, to read and to watch anything that is produced, to assume full personal guardianship, to serve your country and die in its battles, and to be tried as an adult and serve in adult penitentiaries.

Let's stop this artificial extension of exaggerated, neurotic adolescence. A 16 year-old can cope with life and responsibility. The only reason 16 year-olds don't, is that they are not expect too anymore. In the 19th Century no one would be arguing with me. Hey everybody: Can we scrap this social experiment about coddling teen-aged angst before it threatens the whole American Experiment? "Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?"

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