Teens have a knack for coming up with clever ways to rage against the system.
When I was in high school, the most notorious urban legend whispered about in hallways and at parties went like this: A teacher told his class that they were allowed to put "anything" on a notecard to assist them during a science test. Supposedly, one of his students arrived on test day with a grown adult at his side — a college chemistry major, who proceeded to stand on the notecard and give him answers. The teacher was apparently so impressed by the student's cunning that he gave him a high score, then canceled class for the rest of the week because he was in such a good mood.
Of course, I didn't know anyone who'd ever actually try such a thing. Why ruin a good story with reality — that pulling this kind of trick would probably earn you detention?
Yet something even better just happened in real life when Eric Saueracker, an instructor in Washington, told his students they couldn't bring cellphones to their physics test, not even to listen to music.
One teen took advantage of a loophole: He brought in a record player. And Saueracker pulled out his own smartphone so he could document the unusual circumstances for his Twitter followers.
Yo, that takes a special kind of chutzpah. Most of us, I'm assuming, would have simply taken the test music-free. But the kid who listened to vinyl not only managed to follow the letter of the law, he aced the test — and his musical accompaniment was Kanye's ironically titled "College Dropout."
Yet teens these days aren't simply acting out timeless rituals of smartassery. They're also surprisingly healthy, well-behaved, and civic-minded.
The New York Times reports that teen smoking rates have never been lower, studies have found that alcohol use among teens is down by 50% since the '90s, and despite every sitcom warning us otherwise, on average, teens are safer drivers than ever (or at least they have been since 1975).
Plus, many of them are at the vanguard of the gun control movement, taking on politicians and the NRA, not allowing anyone to disrupt their momentum under the guise of free speech (sorry, Laura Ingraham), and one is even getting a full ride into every Ivy League school he applied to.
Still, questioning authority is an important rite of passage on the way to becoming a healthy adult with critical thinking skills. So, sure, it's perfectly admirable that Parkland survivor and activist David Hogg, who just turned 18, has a rather evolved birthday wish: That everyone get out there and vote.
But it's also wonderful that his classmate Cameron Kasky wanted to poke a little fun at his solemn attitude, suggesting that he'll also go ahead and give his friend an actual present (a gift certificate).
I think we can safely assume that today's teens are doing just fine.