Wandering around chicagotribune.com the other day, I noticed a new advice link (ok, maybe not new….new since I’d spent any time at the trib). It appeared to read “Ask Me!!” which seemed excessively exclamatory, but I clicked anyway. Turned out it was actually “Ask Mel.” Mel is a 16-year-old blogger for Chicago Now, who handles questions that “only a teen can answer.” Curious, I took a peek at a few of her columns. I began skeptical, and then became horrified. For example, in response to a writer who can’t stay awake at school, Mel offered the following sugguestions:
Dear Tired Eyes,
Coffee? Sugary snacks? Uncomfortable clothes? And then more sugar?? But these kids need rest, exercise, nutritious meals, and less pressure to perform well on standardized tests! Not junk food, tomfoolery, and sass!
But then I realized….they already know that. Of course they do. If they wanted boring, old person advice (which apparently is what I would give), they’d write to Dear Abby, or, um, ask their moms. They WANT the opinion of a peer. A smart, thoughtful teenager, to be sure, as her blog reveals, but a teenager nonetheless.
One of my favorite posts of hers is a list of ways to deal with boredom while grounded. She just seems like a regular kid, who gets into regular trouble. She’s not making a big fuss about establishing trust and respect between parents and kids, nor about defying them and sneaking out. Just how to get through the boring weekend at home that you know you probably deserved:
Dear Trapped Inside,
And she finally won me over with her latest post, responding to a writer who’s sick of doing chores at home:
Mel gets my vote. She’s a good writer and seems like a smart kid. She’s 16 all right–she’s into Gossip Girl, Jamba Juice, boys, and occasionally picking a fight with the parents if it’s about something “really important” like TV. But she seems like someone other kids her age would like and trust, and turn to for a specific kind of answer. We’ve got lots of moms in the world–including most of the major syndicated advice columnists. Mel is a welcome breath of (smoothie-scented) fresh air, for her own demographic at least.