April 18, 2024


A grown man, dreaming of taking a walk through the woods and finding cats hung from trees by their necks. In my dream I blamed the act on cruel teenagers, the little shit for brains that they are. Once awake, I decided to have a look around and what do I see out my front window but a couple of neighborhood punks out for a stroll. Was my waking the result of prescience? Or just result of punks making too much noise too damn late? One can’t kill them and let God sort them out anymore; the sheriff seemed like a better bet. I have to admit they provided excellent response time, surprisingly.

Have I gotten so old and cantankerous that I must take out the frustrations of my white, middle-class, American life on innocent neighborhood strays? Or has my frustration at the seemingly constant occurrence of petty vandalism in my otherwise clean and comfortable subdivision reached the point not caring if these kids are part of the problem? Or is there simply a line that can be drawn to the effect that there’s no good reason why 15 year olds should be walking the streets at 4 am?

All things considered, the answer is a rather dull-witted Yes. Where are the parents of these children? Asleep in their beds one block over, the nuclear family personified but for junior’s early morning hijinx? Or does daddy live with his secretary now while mommy works overtime at a low-paying job to make ends meet, leaving junior with no adult supervision? Is that important, or is it simply the behaviors that matter?

The bad behavior of our youth has easily surpassed that of my day (and by that we’re talking about the early 1980s). We are all aware of the violence teenage hoodlums perpetrate on society. By and large this is done by boys, girls generally preferring the more sedate rebellion of sleeping around and getting pregnant, and is very often pre-meditated activity. They know what they are doing is wrong and they do it anyway.

Where are their parents in all of this? Pursuing the American dream of a house, a wife, 2.1 kids, and a pickup truck with air-conditioning? Determined to make money to the extent that the very things they should be trying to achieve are ignored? As one caught in that very cycle, to a certain extent, I can say with some perspective that things are not so cut-and-dried as that. But the basic problem is not less real due to its ambiguity. Here it is, in plain English: parents don’t spend enough time with their kids.

That’s a simple truth. Deride me for being obvious, decry me for ignoring the pressures of modern American life, say what you will. The root of the problem with kids in any day and age is that simple. Whether parents are trapped in positions where they simply don’t have the time to fulfill their primary duty or whether they simply don’t give a fuck, it amounts to the same thing.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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