Several years ago, a "Dear Abby" article was written in answer to a teenager's complaint about "having nothing to do." I'm not typically a Dear Abby reader (isn't she dead?), but this old clipping fell out of a book of my grandmother's... and I love it, not because it's true (although harsh), but also because it sounds like my grandmother, and therefore it is common, good sense.
An Open Letter to a Teenager
by Doris Burville of Olympia, WA
Always we hear the plaintive cry of the teenager, 'What can we do? Where can we go?' The answer is, go home!
Hang the storm windows, paint the wood work. Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, shovel the walk. Wash the car, learn to cook, scrub some floors. Repair the sink, build a boat, get a job.
Help the minister, priest or rabbi, the Red Cross, and Salvation Army. Visit the sick, assist the poor, study your lessons.
And then when you are through - and not too tired - read a book.
Your parents do not owe you entertainment. Your city or village does not owe you recreational facilities. The world does not owe you a living. You owe the world something. You owe it your time and energy and your talents so that no one will ever be at war or in poverty or sick or lonely again.
In plain, simple words, grow up; quit being a crybaby. Get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone, and start acting like an adult.
You're supposed to be mature enough to accept some of the responsibility your parents have carried for years. They have nursed, protected, helped, appealed, begged, excused, tolerated and denied themselves needed comforts so that you could have every benefit. This they have done gladly, for you are their dearest treasure. But now, you have no right to expect them to bow to every whim and fancy just because selfish ego, instead of common sense, dominates your personality, thinking and requests.
In heaven's name, grow up and go home!