I’m often asked what it is about freshmen that I like. Even they ask me. It’s common knowledge among teachers that you either love the age group or you don’t. It’s a difficult age. They are on the cusp; trapped between childhood and being adults. No one accepts them in either realm. It’s a horrid position. One of many reasons no one wants to repeat the years of puberty.
After fifteen years working with them, I’m still surprised by them. These are people who are discovering aspects of life for the first time, and they help me rediscover things that I’d forgotten or simply no longer recognize. It’s like being able to relive that first ferris wheel ride or the first time eating cotton candy. It’s experiencing your first kiss, your first crush, your first heartache.
What is it about these freshmen? They inspire me. Each day they wrangle through the muck of a rapidly changing world, much worse even than the sixties and seventies that I endured. Teen angst is there as surely as it was when I made this journey, but there is also a wonderful aura of hope with these young people that transcends what the media would assure us is coming.
So, when I field a question as I did the other day, “Why do you write for teenagers?”, it’s not so hard to answer. Because they deserve to have their stories told.