A.C. Snow

Snow: Teens have the right to be bored

I can imagine the conversation, can’t you?

“Hurry up, girls. Get your things on. I’m going out to spare the turkey, and I want you there.”

“Oh, Daddy! Do we have to? It’s so uncool!”

“Yes. Come on. It might be the one thing I’ve done this year that the Republicans won’t criticize.”

How wrong he was!

As I glance down the year that’s about to end, I feel like paraphrasing Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s famous quip: “If you can’t say anything good about the Obamas, come sit by me.”

Elizabeth Lauten resigned as communications director for a Tennessee congressman after creating a media firestorm for criticizing Obama teens Sasha and Malia on Facebook for looking bored at the annual ceremonial pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey.

“I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play,” Lauten wrote.

Her partisan pout included a jab at the first parents. “Then again, your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department,” she added.

Wow! Now there’s a woman who was having a really bad hair day!

Doesn’t she know that it’s a teen’s constitutional right to look bored? After all, during their unsmiling moments, the two might have felt sad. Although the turkey, called Cheese, may die of old age, millions of other turkeys were destined for the chopping block and ending up on some festive table awaiting the sharp blade of the carving knife.

As a teen, I was never bored. Leisure time was precious. When we kids were not in the fields, Dad found chores for us around the house, such as turning the corn sheller handle at the corn crib or shoveling out what seemed to be the Aegean Stables at the barn.

He was a great believer in the saying that idleness is the devil’s workshop.

My three grandchildren, two of them in their teens, recently left after their holiday visit.

Of course they were bored at times. I occasionally glimpsed those faraway looks on their faces as they wished they were with friends or at the mall spending their Christmas green, or just texting on their electronic toys.

Also, let’s remember that the Obama children are city-born and bred. This could have been their first encounter with a live turkey. They surely can be forgiven for not rushing over with cries of “Oh, you lovely thing,” flinging their arms around the big bird and kissing it on the beak. Ugh! Uncool indeed!

Being the president’s children sounds like the ultimate existence. But consider their almost total lack of privacy. They are almost constantly hovered over by some guy with a gun on his person, while interacting with friends, going for walks, playing tennis and the like. I doubt many choose to live in a fishbowl, even though they may have at one time relished the prospect.

Their lives are no longer that of the typical teen, a species with mysterious, often undecipherable, with moods as changeable as the weather.

Also, teens are very vulnerable to hurt, if not by their peers, then by unexpected blows from life itself.

The next time Ms. Lauten feels overcome by pique, she should just walk around the block, go home, take a couple of aspirin and lie down until her attack of angst passes.

Meanwhile, let’s all be more politically kind to each other during the new year dawning. Take a member of the opposition party to lunch or give the disappointed a sympathetic pat on the back.

And be more tolerant of teens. Remember, they grow into adults, which might be a lot worse.