Could Have Been Me-Talking with Teens

For some reason, younger people have always been drawn to me. People with a story to tell, about a problem. Of course they don’t admit that they want or even need advice. But they do have a lot to say. And I listen. To what they are saying and what they are not sayingâÂ?¦
Most recent, I’ll call her Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Jean’, my middle name, because for some reason she reminds me of me. (Luckily, I got away from the situation the first chance I got). I met Jean one weekend I was working the front desk at my job. She came into the gym with her boyfriend and brother. The boys went to change before working out so she was bored and came to sit at the counter. It was a slow day and I was glad to have someone to talk to. So I said “Hi”. Bonding over MTV Sorority Weekend on the TV, she told me her story. Her boyfriend is a few years older than her. She met him through her brother, who happened to be good friends. At first, big brother was not too thrilled to see the two of them dating, but he eventually softened. The whole family knows and likes him, And his mom adores her. They are already engaged three months into the relationship, and in two years, she has permission from her mom to marry.
At this point, she mentioned a fight in school that got her suspended. Thinking she was in college, I had to backtrack and get the ages. I assumed she was a freshman in college, not high school. She is only fifteen, and he is-how old? That explained why they needed permission to marry.
Not one to exclaim at the top of my lungs: “Are you crazy? Run, while you can!!!” I let her tell me more. In the course of an hour, she bought a protein shake and then a soda. Was she sure she had enough money to be just spending? , I asked. Jean explained that her dad died last spring and she feels a need to spend money like water. Maybe that also explained her need to have a big muscle bound “protector” boyfriend three times her size. It did. The fact that she is so young to be so serious frightened me.
The conversation turned to spoiled college kids, whose parents give them everything. It turns out, last year she was a skinny nobody in high school, wearing no-name clothes. Now she has a figure and shopping at the mall. More flashbacks of my complete non-coolness in high school that stemmed from being too tiny to fit anything and the joy over the first cool boy to like me anyway. More hurt that followed. Anyway, now boys are looking at her and flirting. Jean loves flashing “the ring” and pointing at her hulk boyfriend. As if to say “too late. I’ve got a big man who will protect me now.”
By now, the boys have finished the workout and are in the locker room showering. She loves his long ponytail and does not want him to cut it. She admitted it’s very likely he will. But confusingly enough, she has agreed to grow her hair out of her stylish bob because it was long when they met and he is “making” her grow it back. Just like it is okay that Jean is only allowed to wear the cute mini skirt when he can be around. He doesn’t want other guys to look. She cannot look good for anyone other than him, not even herself. Telling me all this, she had the starry eyed look, that only a teenager in love for the first time could have. She has no idea what a trap she is falling into. And she would not believe me if I told herâÂ?¦

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