I stop at Starbucks almost every morning for a latte to start my day. It’s a relatively affordable and harmless decadence that makes me happy and gives me an excellent boost, along with a healthy serving of calcium. I’m quite predictable about my latte: a 4-shot venti half-caf. Easy to order, easy to prepare, easy to drink. My latte and a nice banana combine to make the perfect breakfast.
The timing of the coffee purchase is critical: I like to savor my latte over a couple of hours, and I like to start drinking it in the car before I get to school.
There are three Starbucks between my house and my school. One is in my town, but it’s not on my regular route. Another one is right down the hill from school, but it’s hard to park there in the morning and I don’t usually drive through “downtown” to get to school. So really, the most accessible Starbucks is the one at the midpoint of my drive, which just happens to be quite near a very large suburban high school. I’m such a regular customer that the baristas know my drink as soon as I walk in. There’s something comforting about that.
Sometimes when the boy and I arrive, there is a gaggle of high school girls waiting by the barista’s counter. Without exception, they order the most elaborate, complicated, time-consuming beverages possible: double tall caramel macchiato. White chocolate mocha with extra chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Pumpkin spice soy latte. Chocolate chip Frappucino …And they don’t just order for themselves; some days they’re all standing there with 4-cup cardboard trays, waiting to bring drinks to their friends. If I’m in a hurry, the sight of the caramel macchiato girls can make me anxious. But lately, I’ve come to appreciate, to learn from, and even enjoy, these girls.
First of all, they seem to be really nice kids. They are polite and sweet with the Starbucks staff. They don’t swear or use inappropriate language or talk about wild parties. They always thank the barista. I’ve never heard one of them complain about a drink. They joke around with each other. They smile at me and my son. They hold the door for people on their way in and out. And they dress like kids, not like Britney Spears wannabes. They don’t squeal and talk about boys. When I was in there on Friday, two girls were discussing a physics test.
These girls are teaching me about “good kid” youth fashion. Skinny jeans and Uggs, long, layered t-shirts. Short-ish skirts with leggings and short boots. And the best part for this Title 9 grownup–they wear varsity jackets. Their OWN varsity jackets, not their boyfriends’ jackets. Field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, cross-country…these girls are athletes. They are fit and healthy (despite the sugar and calories in the macchiato).
I think lots of people stereotype teenagers, but I’d just like to say that the caramel macchiato girls are a great example of the kind of kids we all want to see.