We can teach our children well — without ‘white noise’

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Disclaimer: I have five children so, obviously, I like kids.

I find them fascinating, annoying, incredible, exasperating and awe-inspiring — particularly as they go through those real terrible twos — the double digits of teenage years.

My teenage years were far from conventional — at the time.

Growing up in the 1960s, I lived in a family where “good girls” didn’t wear slacks to school, didn’t listen to rock ‘n’ roll (Sonny and Cher were “singing from hunger” in my father’s eyes), where you had to be aware of current events to survive dinner-time conversation and where girls really should always learn shorthand, just in case our silly job dreams didn’t pan out — which, of course, my father was sure they wouldn’t.

To cross him was to incur the kind of wrath that today gets you a visit from social services.

So I find it truly amazing to watch as my brood goes through their teenaged years. Three have successfully passed this necessary rite; two are making their way through it.

I learn from each of them daily — and it’s why I can’t understand why there are so many in Kamloops who view teenagers as aliens, strange creatures to fear, who must be controlled.

This thought came coursing back to the forefront of my thoughts recently for several reasons.

First, there was a former Kamloops RCMP officer talking on the radio about an incident in his new detachment.

This same officer is one I had some heated words with one day a few years ago when he confronted my then-teenaged oldest son as he got off the bus down at the old Thompson Park Mall.

James had his skateboard with him; he took it with him everywhere, as teenagers often do.

He knew he wasn’t supposed to use it on the streets, although I’m pretty sure he didn’t always heed that dictum.

But, on this day, he was just getting off the bus to catch the next one to get to his job on the North Shore, when this officer stopped him, told him skateboards weren’t allowed downtown and then snapped the board in half across his knee.

When we “chatted” about it, the officer said James had been seen in the company of a known drug dealer.

I asked what that meant. He told me James had got off the bus behind this bad guy. Nope, they didn’t talk. They just happened to be in the same space, which was enough for this cop to label my teenaged son.

My second-youngest, barely into his teens, experienced similar age profiling recently.

He and his buddies all wear purple bandanas.

Apparently, in a couple of parents’ minds, that means they’re in a gang.

It was enough of an issue that the principal and vice-principal of his school asked the guys to stop wearing their bandanas, all the while acknowledging these parents are so wrong to stereotype a group of boys that way.

In Liam’s mind, it’s as bad as the situation the teen boy faced one day when he wore a pink T-shirt to school — the stereotyping he was subjected to became a national anti-homophobic movement.

And, finally, there’s rookie Coun. Marg Spina, who has fuelled the local anti-teen movement with her truly ridiculous idea that proprietors of places where teenagers gather should play some sort of “white-noise” frequency that will apparently only be heard by teenaged ears and incite them to find some other place to hang out.

Apparently, she thinks there’s some sort of frequency emitter out there that can be tuned to some modulation that only teenaged ears can hear — and it’s strong enough to drive them away.

News flash! Teenagers gather together. They hang out. They’ve done it through the generations. Spina probably did it herself.

And, at least when they’re gathered in a public place, we know where they are and what they’re doing.

If they’re a nuisance, the business owner should be the one to move them on. If they don’t, it’s a policing problem, not a councillor’s issue.

There’s really no need for this “white-noise” idea — for the teenagers or from Spina’s mouth.