Coffee-Shop Kids...and Hope



Chuck Cascio

     Kids. All ages. They wander into the coffee shop daily after school. They meet sometimes to sip a beverage but often just to interact informally with one another. 

     Mostly, they laugh. They occasionally talk about a project--from school or something to do at home or an idea blossoming from their fertile imagination, the latter prompting infectious chatter among them.

     Yes, they are often loud, but their energy is inspiring. It provides me with some much-needed hope. Hope that the disruption our society is currently experiencing will be addressed by the youth of today in their own way. 

     Will that way be different from, say, the ways of previous generations?  Of course. Because that is how change occurs. That is why my music-loving parents had a hard time understanding the appeal of the raucous rock-and-roll of my youth as compared with the melodious songs of Sinatra and Dino and the opera arias that wafted throughout our home. They came to realize, perhaps reluctantly, that what they were hearing was not “wrong.” It was just what fit a new generation.

     After all, the appeal of what affects life morphs from one generation to the next. The coffee-shop kids look different from the kids of my youth, just as the long-haired males and mini-skirted females of my generation looked different from the "more appropriately" attired youths of my parents' generation. But that does not mean the kids of today are inherently “wrong.”istockphoto-825154518-612x612.jpg


     The coffee-shop kids exhibit their intelligence and creativity without even being fully aware that they are doing so. 

     So what if they burst out laughing at some image on a mobile device that one of them shares with the others? 

     So what if they actually talk with their in-person group while simultaneously texting other friends who are elsewhere? 

     It is their energy, creative conversation, and commitment to one another in the informal, after-school, coffee-shop setting that impresses me. 

     But...why do I need hope? Why do I need to wish that what I am seeing is evidence of the reality in which they think...and love...and live? 

     I do not pretend to have answers to those questions, but there are restrictive elements that surround kids today that I find disturbing.  Sure, kids have to understand that there are limits to what is--and should be--considered acceptable. That has been true with every generation, but those things change over time. 

     There is harm in not just letting kids meet and interact and play…as kids. Those informal freedoms result in their own internal guidance and decisions that will lead our society in the future. Suppressing those freedoms will only suppress the creativity that leads to positive changes.

     If in today's world it takes a coffee shop to provide that free, creative environment, then, by all means, I welcome it. Bring on the coffee. Bring on the change. But bring it on freely by letting the coffee-shop kids be, and think, and create with some degree of trust and independence.

Reader response is always welcome. Send to

Copyright: Chuck Cascio; all rights reserved.