Prom Nights from Hell

March 14, 2008 at 10:26 am 1 comment

As I read Prom Nights from Hell and tried to think of it in the context of Constructive Use of Time, my mind kept returning to the fact that teenagers and adults often define “constructive” in very different ways. When I was a teenager, I learned to answer “Nothing” whenever someone (usually my dad) asked what I was doing. But I wasn’t doing nothing, of course. I was writing an email, or reading a book, or listening to a Toad the Wet Sprocket song on repeat while I stared at my ceiling. All things of little consequence to an observer, but of great importance to me at the time.

It strikes me, then, that the sub-sections under Constructive Use of Time are written from a decidedly adult perspective. Yes, plenty of teenagers do already participate in creative activities and religious groups and extra-curriculars. But are these the only constructive uses for one’s time?

John Lennon once said, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted.” So much that is important in life is discovered in the moments between plans, in those rare unscheduled hours that afford spontaneity. (Oh, man, anytime now I’m going to say “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”)

Anyway, my point is that these categories are all very observable for an adult. You can watch a teen onstage, or on a playing field, or in a church and say, “Aha! There’s a young person doing something constructive.” But the young adults in Prom Nights from Hell are doing some incredibly important things–you know, saving lives, taking lives, falling in love–that are effectively invisible to the adults. Personally, I’d love to see a teenager come up with a list of developmental assets, and particularly give an honest definition of Constructive Use of Time. I have a feeling Time at Home might not make the list.


Entry filed under: books. Tags: , , , , , , , .

“We have books like this in our library?!” Neverwhere

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Linda  |  March 14, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I love that idea of having teens come up with a list of developmental assets. (I actually just tweeted that you had this idea.) It would be really interesting to have teens talk about the assets that exist and then how they might change them to be more real for their lives. Let me know when you get that project going 😉

    On the topic of what’s constructive – this is particularly apt within not only the discussion of this book but also the other ways teens spend time – watching TV, talking to friends, etc. And, most important of all perhaps is the times teens stare into space without seeming to be doing anything.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I used to look at people on the subway – waiting for a movie to start, sitting waiting at jury duty – who weren’t doing anything and judging them for not having a book while they waited. I’ve turned into one of “those” people – at least sometimes – and have realized that just sitting and staring is very constructive.


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