School is winding to a close for students in the city. As a result, kids are staring to be out and about during weekdays. With no summer schedules or routines yet in place, youth are finding ways to fill their time – at least, until the time is filled for them.
So, on my walk this morning, I passed by four high-school boys standing on the side of the street. My guess is that the “boys” (nearly men) were recent graduates – they had that “I’m-confident-‘cause-I-just-graduated-but-really-I’m-nervous-‘cause-I-know-my-life-is-about-to-change-forever” air about them. Anyway, the four young men had one skateboard between them. One in the crowd would take the board and demonstrate a trick (or attempt a maneuver) while the others watched, critiqued, and offered pointers on how to do it better next time. It was really quite sweet.
As I approached the group, the activity ‘coolly’ slowed. Casually, leisurely, nonchalantly [read: very calculatingly and methodically], the demonstrations and conversations winded down as I came within ear-shot – then completely stopped as I physically passed by. Once I cleared the gathering, and my back was safely to the gentlemen, I heard the skateboard tricks resume: wheels once again clacked against the street, tennis shoes scuffed loose gravel, advice was offered/stated.
Despite their bravado, exterior assuredness, and ‘self-confidence’, these 17- and 18-year-old kids were just that: kids. They didn’t want to mess up or sound silly in front of some random woman walking down the street; they wanted to be cool.
So I found it hilarious that I – a small, unassuming, approaching-middle-age woman – could wield that much influence over four large, loud, teenage boys, solely by my physical presence. I also found it sweet that, despite their best pretenses, they really do care.