Commentary: Being a teenager brings on some interesting decision-making

Commentary: Being a teenager brings on some interesting decision-making
February 01
09:52 2018

When I was coming of age in North Carolina, the choices I had were limited. I didn’t know they were limited, so I was happy and enjoyed life as best as I could each day.

In my hometown of Winston-Salem, I don’t think there was a formal curfew. However, there was a street-lights-on- go-in-the-house curfew. As a result, when the street lights came on, especially during the summer, we had to be in the house. There were no excuses. If you wanted to be a smart aleck, you would face repercussions and ramifications.

Being a teenager, for me and my group of friends, was almost uneventful upon reflection now. The one constant for us was that we walked everywhere. Many of us had more miles on our feet than some used cars. We walked downtown to the movies and to shop when we had some money. None of my friends really had any money, but we had joyful spirits.

Just as today, we as teens got into mischief. I don’t remember who first exposed me to “monkey cigars.” First off, you have to be a legitimate senior citizen to know about monkey cigars.

The guys in my circle convinced me to try a monkey cigar. I took a couple of puffs and almost choked. That was my first and last experience with a monkey cigar. In a strange sort of way, it could be my experience with monkey cigars that is the reason for me being a non-smoker.

Now, if you fast forward to 2018, teens are still experimenting and making interesting choices. One of the more dangerous choices is dousing themselves with rubbing alcohol and setting themselves on fire. Now in my opinion that is both dangerous and life-threatening. I am not sure that we would have set ourselves on fire back in the day.

Another ill-advised prank is to throw boiling hot water on your friends. In my view that is just too stupid but who am I to say! I am just a senior citizen getting discounts at restaurants where I dine.

The latest teenage indiscretion is really one for the ages. Tide detergent has been around for a long time. Teens are now eating Tide Pods. C’mon man! They pop these things in their mouths like hushpuppies. It is unbelievable in my opinion that anyone would want to eat some detergent.

Being a teen these days is a much different experience. Certainly, the opportunities for success are much greater than we ever had. For example, early teens have the chance to attend college workshops and seminars. High schoolers can engage in dual enrollment, which allows them to gain college credit. One of my cousins had this opportunity and enrolled as a college sophomore. That is outstanding.

Now more teenagers are studying abroad. These junkets help to shape and to form their views about other people and cultures. It is exciting to hear students talk about some of the global challenges that we face.

As parents and grandparents, let us support our children in their efforts to make good decisions.  These are some challenging times for young teens, so they will need some guidance and plenty of counseling.  Let us help them along the way.

James B. Ewers  Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator.  He can be reached at

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