An Open Letter To The 12-Year-Olds In My Neighborhood


Hey, Guys,

How are you? How’s puberty? Hitting you pretty hard I guess… yeah, braces, rough. Girls aren’t as smelly/ weird as they were last year, you kinda want to talk to them now, and you have a mouth full of metal and a face full of acne. I feel that. And the ladies, how are we doing? Into Justin Bieber or Demi Gomez or whatever is popular right now? That’s cool, that’s cool.

Look, I wanted to talk to you because, well, things are getting kind of weird. I’m 22, and I know that puts me in about the same age bracket as Cloris Leachman and Father Time for you guys, so I feel I speak with some authority. But, you know, it wasn’t so long ago that I was 12 years old. I was listening to the Backstreet Boys, sitting on my inflatable glitter chair, and putting heart stickers on my Walkman. They were poignant times, and I wouldn’t want to take them from you. We all deserve that moment when we fumble through hormones and middle school pre-algebra.

But the thing is, I see you guys around here a lot–I see you guys smoking, licking the backs of each other’s throats, talking about getting drunk/ high the night before, yelling at us older people, playing in traffic, wearing stilettos with miniskirts (a combination not even a Jenna Jameson in her prime could really pull off), and generally being… old. And I know, I wasn’t an angel when I was your age. No one was. It’s a time for experimentation, that’s for sure. But I feel like the kind of experimentation you should be taking part in at your age is sneaking out to the clubhouse past curfew and chugging the Fun Dip sugar straight out of the packet. You know, kid stuff.

And I know, you guys aren’t kids! Some of you have those painful little beginner breasts and some of your testicles have even descended! Theoretically, some of you could be reproducing. But if Maury and MTV have taught us anything, shouldn’t it be that just because you can have children, doesn’t mean you should? I have friends my age with kids and, believe me, they are still well in the train wreck league. No need to be challenging them at the Premature Parent World Series. And perhaps the fact that you guys have grown up in a big city, constantly exposed to scary strangers, hypodermic needles, and public transportation has led you to believe that you are mature and world-weary enough to handle the kind of crazy you seem to want to get into. But just because your childhood wasn’t spent chasing fireflies, playing with your dogs in your backyard, and running home when your mom calls you in for dinner doesn’t mean that you are any less an innocent 12-year-old.

But who could blame you, really? I mean, look at what you’re growing up with. You go on to any computer and type in “porn,” you are welcome into a world beyond your wildest dreams, filled with people having sex from every angle conceivable. (Though despite your assumption that no one will ever find out about your lying when clicking the “Over 18 To Enter” buttons, I assure you–Obama knows. He knows, and He is judging.) But regardless, your unlimited access to all that is immediate, vulgar, and misleading must be hard to overcome. And what are your pop icons? Ke$ha? Katy Perry? I will be the first to admit that Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are by no means saints, but we got them at pre-meltdown/ stripper phases, and some of their songs could be considered, by any standards, a bit chaste. Ke$ha rubs glitter on her vagina and sits on the camera lens.

All I’m saying is, you have your whole lives to grow up. You have your mid-teens to do like we did and fumble around ungracefully on the internet, looking for a few scraps of guidance in this terrifying sexual labyrinth. You have your early twenties to wear incredibly uncomfortable shoes and stand outside, ridiculously underdressed for the weather, shivering as you wait to get in some overrated club. You have your whole life to smoke–but let’s try to just avoid that one altogether. I know the temptation to grow up and own your adolescence at such a tender age is powerful, and I know that growing up in a city filled with so many opportunities must entice you to pick the worst ones, but seriously–calm down. All these mistakes and deplorable behavior will be waiting for you when you get just a smidge older. At least wait until you can coherently blog about it to start ruining your lives.

And while I have you here, could I ask you a quick favor–could you go get your parents for me? We need to have a quick talk.


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image – Milishor