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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks


Paul and I have been working with teenagers on the SAT for longer than I care to admit to here. Over the years we’ve heard and seen some crazy things.

There was the girl who was infatuated with Paul. She was so sweet, but she was an odd little creature. She would routinely pour a package of peanuts into a Coke bottle and eat/drink the concoction while he was teaching her.

One day Paul was working with her in math, and he dropped a pencil. A minute later, she handed it back to him and asked, “Do you know how I picked that up? With my toes.“ Paul dropped the pencil and almost lost his lunch at the same time.

And then there was the time we were teaching a boy, who kept insisting that he was the hostess, not the host, at his family‘s restaurant. At the time I was, what felt like, 11 months pregnant, and he asked if we were brother and sister.

We could probably write a book with the stories, both funny and sweet, but I’ve always felt that teenagers get a bad rap. We hear how teens are the worst with their slovenly habits and their surly attitudes. Sure, you will find a few like that here and there, but by and large, they are awesome people. Most are hard workers, and they say yes, ma’am, and no ma’am so much I want to strangle them, but I don’t because I know how much work mom and dad went to to drill that into them in the first place.

They have a lot on their shoulders as they straddle the fence between adulthood and still being a kid, being told to enjoy the freedoms they have at the moment and figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives. They are constantly put under the microscope and then have to battle the expectations a lot of adults have of not being focused on anything but themselves.

A few weeks ago I was at the beach with my friend Mandy when she received a call from her older son Chance calling about his younger brother Carson. Heart rates immediately skyrocketed. “What’s wrong? Is he OK?”

“Calm down Mom.“ (Please read in the tone of an exasperated youth.) “I just wanted to tell you what he did; it was pretty cool.”

Chance went on to explain that his 16 year-old brother was following him to the garage to get a car worked on. Chance, in the front car, saw a woman whose car was broken down, and before he could find a place to turn around and pull over, his younger brother had pulled over and was pushing her car out of the road. Pretty amazing for anyone to do that these days, but maybe especially a teen? The second great thing about the story was that the older brother was so proud of his sibling that he called Mom to “tell on him.“

It’s easy to lose faith in humanity in the world today, but if you pay attention there are definitely those out there to help restore it, and it might just be a teenager. It’s not as impressive as being able to pick up pencils with your toes, but it’s not a bad second.

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