Some rules kids won't learn in school
Text By Charles J. Sykes
Printed in San Diego Union Tribune
September 19, 1996
Unfortunately, there are some things that
children should be learning in school, but
don't. Not all of them have to do with academics. As a modest back-to-school offering, here are some basic
rules that may not have found their way
into the standard curriculum.
Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to
it. The average teenager uses the phrase,
"It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the
most idealistic generation ever. When they
started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.
Rule No. 2: The real world won't
care as much about your self-esteem as much
as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before
you feel good about yourself. This may
come as a shock. Usually, when inflated
self-esteem meets reality, kids complain it's not fair. (See Rule No.
Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won't make $40,000 a year right out of high
school. And you won't be a vice
president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Gap label.
Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get
a boss. He doesn't have tenure, so he
tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he's
not going to ask you how you feel about it.
Rule No. 5: Flipping
burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grand-parents had a different word of burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't
embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.
Rule No. 6: It's not your parents' fault. If you
screw up, you are responsible. This is the
flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the
boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When
you turn 18, it's on your dime. Don't
whine about it, or you'll sound like a
Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren't
as boring as they are now. They got that
way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and
listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way,
before you save the rain forest from the
blood-sucking parasites of your parents'
generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.
Rule No. 8:
Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn't. In some schools, they'll give you as
many times as you want to get the right
answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone's feelings
be hurt. Effort is as important as
results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule
No. 2 and Rule No. 4)
Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and
you don't get summers off. Not even Easter
break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don't get a new life every 10
weeks. It just goes on and on. While we're
at it, very few jobs are interesting in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself.
Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See
Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)
Rule No. 10: Television is not real life.
Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems
will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the
coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends
will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.
Rule No. 11: Be nice
to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all
Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes
you look moronic. Next time you're out
cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his
mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for
"expressing yourself" with purple hair
and/or pierced body parts.
Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule
No. 12.) If you are under the impression
that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of
your peers at room temperature
Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a
pain, school's a bother, and life is
depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start