That song, “Kids,” from the musical comedy “Bye Bye Birdie” keeps popping up in my mind.
“Kids, I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today.
Kids, who can understand anything they say?
Kids, they are disobedient, disrespectful oafs.
Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy loafers . . .
That song is wrong. It says more about jaded adults than it does about kids. In recent years, I hear way too many people my age lamenting today’s kids. These kids they complain about must be figments of their imaginations or stereotypes they’ve acquired from watching too many crime shows. We should take time to notice just how good young people really are. The kids I’ve been meeting are not “crazy, sloppy, lazy loafers.” On the contrary, they have sterling qualities many of their elders do not possess.
Just the other day, in Sartell, about 1,000 high-school students worked hard to spruce up the city and do other good deeds. I am constantly impressed by the volunteerism, acts of kindness, intelligence and achievements of Sartell’s young people in academics and extracurricular activities. As a reporter, it is a pleasure to interview these young achievers who include spelling-bee winners, sports champs, award-winning artists, math wizards and theater actors.
I’m also wowed by the topnotch service given by young people at businesses in Sartell and throughout the greater St. Cloud area. For example, if you want expert, courteous service with a smile, just pop into Liquid Assets in Sartell and let the young employees there greet you. They can help you feel good about the world.
The other day, I stopped at Fleet Farm in Waite Park to get some wood products as I plan to build some Baltimore oriole grape-jelly feeders. I could not find quite what I needed. A young female employee popped over and asked with chipper willingness, “Could I help you find something?”
I explained to her what I wanted.
With an eagerness to help, she spent at least 10 minutes searching shelves in several aisles, all the while sharing good-natured wisecracks with me. That young woman, if you ask me, deserves an instant raise. She was the absolute best, and she made my shopping effort a happy one.
Another worker – a teenager – at Menard’s saw me huffing-and-puffing, trying to put heavy bags of compost into my car. He rushed right over and said, “Want me to load them?”
“Oh, would you please?” I asked, out of breath. “I’m not the spring chicken I used to be.”
“No problem,” he said.
Effortlessly, he hefted those 12 heavy bags into my car.
“You have the strength of Hercules, young man,” I told him. “You deserve an instant raise.”
“Tell that to my boss,” he said with a chuckle.
“I can’t thank you enough.”
“No problem,” he said. “Glad to help out.”
I meet young people like them all the time on my shopping jaunts in Sartell and other cities. Almost invariably, these young people are courteous, helpful, expert, kind, energetic – and last but not least – very witty. They can shoot the breeze so pleasantly. These good kids are everywhere, including my own neighborhood. There’s Sarina, Devin, Austin, Tristen, Kelsey — all of them kind and courteous and so helpful, always eager to lend a hand to other neighbors with outdoor chores.
When I think of the stresses kids must be facing these days — school, work, the cruddy economy, in some cases unstable families – I am doubly impressed and very moved by their incredible grace under pressure.