It’s back to school for the children of Rangeley, and just in time too. They need vacation from their vacation weeks longer than 40 hours. There is no denying that they are essential cogs in the machinery of our local economy. Without them Rangeley as we know it would cease to function as the holiday destination it is. The huge influx of those from afar would overwhelm underemployed businesses as they are, and you think allowed rudeness is something now, just imagine the attitude of someone having to wait over 10 minutes to his lobster roll. Martial law would be declared.
And through that, all the kids keep their cool. Most of them work in the service sector, directly or indirectly. And employers certainly appreciate them. Children learn social skills beyond home and school. They learn how businesses work or sometimes fail. An understanding is gained of how the almighty dollar works. Sweat and toil bring monetary rewards. Our children respect the pecking order. They bond with colleagues, young and old, through a shared experience. There’s something about being criticized on a Wednesday night when you’re understaffed and lacking in everything, and the bartender is having a really rough day, and one of the waitresses just got a visit from her Aunt Flo, and a table of 12 walks in 10 minutes before closing, and you all grit your teeth, force a smile, and pull it off together. Moments like this build character. Moments like this also question humanity after you bust your hump by providing the best service possible to be knocked down badly. Rude customers should be registered and made to self-monitor. Maybe they’ll tip you better if they do.
So when people criticize high school kids for their devotion to their phones, their hours spent playing video games, and their reliance on Google for answers and apps for ease, remember this: they don’t care. invented none. The American obsession with buying stuff is the product of being flooded with advertising like the sun’s rays. The kids just react like the patriotic capitalists we trained them to be. They didn’t invent the Internet, but they know how to use it. Grandma doesn’t know how to use her TV controller without her grandson’s help. Whose fault is it ? Hint: not the grandson’s.
The children are doing well. They’ve just come out of a pandemic and more than ever before, they’re being diagnosed with mental health issues. Don’t blame them for it, and don’t dare say disdainfully, “Suck it, buttercup.” They are far stronger than you. Somewhere along the way, many adults believe in their own inflated narrative of their strength and courage. You can add and subtract in your head. Well, good for you. Someone invented the calculator and children use it. Whoops. And, please, spare me the walking to and from school stuff. We have this thing called buses, and we use them. The children did not invent them either.
Most children leave Rangeley when they graduate, some temporarily and some for good. They take with them the best and the worst of what they have learned here. As the new school year begins and weary teenagers are dragged from their beds at ungodly and unhealthy hours, be kind and understanding to them. They did not invent the clock that they are obliged to respect. They did not invent the school they must legally attend. And if you see them staring at their phones playing games, just because you’ve looked up long enough from your own phone, don’t harangue them just because they’re good, patriotic consumers. The children are doing well. Adults, on the other hand…
Happy school year children and happy holidays.