When is a Child Not a Child?

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Let’s begin this piece with a question: when is a child not a child?

It was during a quite uneventful bus ride home this afternoon that we stopped outside Cromer Hospital. There was the usual crowd of Cromer Academy kids there waiting to go on, with a young lad entering first and asking the driver for a child’s ticket to wherever he was going.
“Have you been smoking?” the driver asked.
“Yeah.” the child asked instantly.
“Then you’re no longer a child. I’ll have to charge you for an in-between ticket.”

The young lad looked quite annoyed but remained silent. Instead it was one of his friends who tried to stick up for him.
“Why can’t you give him a child’s ticket?”
“It’s simple.” the driver replied. “He’s older than a child and younger than an adult, and if he’s old enough to smoke then he’s no longer a child.”

The young lad paid for his ticket and walked past me to the back of the bus. To say that he didn’t look to happy was an understatement, and for the first time in ages I was in complete and utter agreement with the driver.

You see, it’s been my own personal experience that kids of that age only smoke because they think it makes them look older, more mature. Why they think this remains a complete mystery to me. It did back when I was a teenager because I have never really seen the attraction of either drinking or smoking heavily.

So my advice to this young lad, or any other teenager for that matter, is this: if you want to be treated like an adult, if you want to be perceived as being more mature than you actually are then be prepared to pay the price.

Incidentally, can any parents out there tell me just what teenage boys eat these days? Why? Because just before I saw the young smoker I saw another Cromer Academy pupil with a beard the likes of WWE superstar Luke Harper would be proud of. Well, I assume he was a teenage. Either that or he’s been held back for ten consecutive years.

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