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Rock the Block shows needs of teens

Two Fridays ago, May 18, my husband and I went to Rock the Block. We ate dinner at a favorite restaurant. We strolled hand in hand up and down Main Street exchanging grins and greetings and chatter with friends. We walked through open doors into brightly lit shops where smiling owners greeted us. We looked at the merchandise and made some purchases. We treated ourselves to some refreshments. We enjoyed the live music and the air of camaraderie all over town. In other words, we partook of the entire Rock the Block/Half Moon Bay experience, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Indeed, it was wonderful. As Main Stage emcee Cameron Palmer put it, only in Half Moon Bay could you close off Main Street and sit out in the middle of town hearing live music with all your neighbors.

But then, gradually, I began noticing the older kids. The teens.

First a few, then more and more, gathering in front of MCoffee. A crowd just growing, standing around. Restlessly shifting from one foot to the other. No one in a hurry to go anywhere. Yet there was an intensity here. Either no one made direct eye contact with passersby or gave an almost aggressive stare. Some swaggered, announcing their status. Others flirted but darted away before thing got serious. All around there floated an undercurrent of discontent. You could almost taste the boredom. It wasn’t scary, but disquieting.

I flashed back on something I heard someone say years ago; The Coastside is heaven for adults and hell for kids.

And the kids themselves have echoed that for years: there’s nothing to do here. Well, they make a point.

Not everyone is into sports. Or theater. Or 4-H. Sure, it would be nice to have shops here, a movie theater, a TGIFriday’s-style restaurant, a bigger skate park, a place to dance. Some local churches and some youth groups have some of those things, but not all kids belong, or want to be part of a sanctioned group.

On the other hand, many adults, and no few kids too, like the open character of the coast. Do they want the town to grow so big that it has something here to accommodate every whim, every time?

We adults can’t accommodate everyone and everything, and maybe we shouldn’t try. Space, funds, permits are limited. And the charm of things just handed to you, without the pride and ownership that comes with helping build them, tends to wear off in surprisingly short order.

What about a halfway measure? Instead of handing out pacifiers, what happened to teaching kids to look in the mirror? Dig deep, tap into their own resources, make their own fun?

Remember teenager Krista Jorgensen, unfortunately no longer with us since she passed away due to illness, but who channeled her fondness for Harry Potter into founding a club for her like-minded peers?

Some ancient philosopher put it this way: Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for life.

We have ample resources here. Open space, technical support, a bank of adults willing to offer support and resources -- without taking over. Of course there’s a flip side: It means more from those adults. More time and effort in showing our kids how to find inner resources, how to master the fine art of responsible action. Of course, it’s a demand: time and energy are things we don’t lightly commit, and realistically may not even have.

But instead of trying to fix the problem with a band-aid solution, a misguided rush to “give,” how about encouraging our youth to channel their considerable talents and energies into healthy action, to master the art of fishing for life?

Of course we want to see our kids happy, not restless, and not in trouble. But are we enabling the problem? Boredom doesn’t maim, but it can cripple.


Comments

Some teens will always be bored no matter what kind of outlets are there for them. It is part of being a teenager. Many have their whole identity wrapped up in the fact that they are misfits. Even if they found something they loved, you could never get them to admit it.


Kids complain about being bored no matter where they live. I have lived in this community my whole life, and the only boredom I have experienced was the direct result of my own lazyness.

Maybe the kids around here just aren't inventive enough to entertain themselves? Or maybe they're angst ridden middle school students like every other teenager on the planet.

There are so many things for kids to do on the coast. Yeah, there's not a movie theater. Boo-freaking-hoo.


Stacy is quite observant. I felt the unrest in the air. There definitely was an undercurrent. Not quite frightening, but unsettling for sure. I wish I could come up with an easy solution. Thank you for your musing.


Stacy Stevenson's blog, written just about a YEAR ago, speaks in a way which sounds self serving,and with just a few responses, NONE of which make recommendations and are dismissive of the kids,are almost

pathetic in their dismissal of the young.

Things have only become worse, and when I see the amount of babies, children in those monster carts in the Safeway, and many more pregnant and due, it makes no sense why people want to raise children here just to torture them with boredom by the time they are teens.

Someone said it recently in a post here that this place has turned into a cemetery....I agree and most of all I think the parents are the most selfish, non caring and disinterest I have ever seen anywhere. Why not think of getting the locals to get some land and build a gym like the one going up in Woodside.An 8 million dollar donation for the richest community in America could be done where the kids could have dances, parties and even swap meets or ANYTHING.


When I was in a teen in the 80's in Palo Alto, we used to come to HMB to have fun. Nothing beats a goodtime on the beach.


Remember that they had a very bad week this past week. I thought they were well behaved under the circumstances. Losing a classmate tragically and suddenly is very upsetting to these kids. They are all good kids who will find their way - making a life for themselves that is informed by the surroundings of their upbringing. We just need to love them through it and not make it too easy or too hard for them.


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