I once had a high school teacher tell my class that trying to get a group of teens to follow directions is like trying to corral a bunch of cats.
I’ve never tried to corral cats, but for the past four years, I’ve been overseeing teens as part of our Pulse journalism program.
I have to admit, that teacher was right — kind of .
Cats, just like teens, love to show you they are fiercely independent. Oh, some are like their canine counterparts, happy that you’re there, but most of the time, they’re aloof.
I’ve been working with teens for more than 10 years now, and I’ve seen about every form of cat-like attitude from teens.
Cats, just like teens, come in all types of personalities. Some cats like to ignore you while you’re standing there talking to them; some cats act with indifference at your very existence; other cats lash out, showing you their claws; and others need a scratch on the head just to let you know they’re there.
But I hadn’t thought about the teacher’s turn of phrase until Thursday night while at the Humane Society of Washington County.
As part of the Pulse teen broadcast journalism team, we were there to shoot our first video of the summer. I invited the whole group so they could all participate. This was their test: Did they pay attention to what I’ve been talking about the last few weeks? Were they going to act professionally as I stressed? Were they going to remember how to shoot?
As I was helping set up the camera, in front of me was a wall of cages filled with every type of cute, fluffy, adorable cats and kittens. In that moment, it reminded me of the teens.
Some of the kittens were climbing the walls ready to play, others were taking a nap, a few more were just watching to see what was going on and one was meowing to get our attention.
Will the kittens always be this way, be so eager to play?
Nope, those days are fleeting as they mature into being cats.
So here I was hoping that for the one day a week I meet with the teens that I’m getting them while they’re still eager to learn new things. And hoping that I am actually teaching them something that makes them excited.
As for their first test? They did better than I expected for their first time in front and behind the camera. With their cat-like attitudes, they showed me they were listening the whole time; they just didn’t have to let me know they were listening.
As they gathered outside to chat once more before they left to go home, I couldn’t help but think that corralling cats couldn’t be harder than corralling a bunch of teenagers.
And at least for me, who owns a pair of cats herself, I don’t think it would be quite as rewarding.
Crystal Schelle is Lifestyle editor of The Herald-Mail. She can be reached at 301-791-7136 or by email at email@example.com. Follow Lifestyle on Twitter @hm_lifestyle.