It’s Tuesday morning, and they are being kicked out. These middle school students, having a late-start day at the middle school next door to this coffee shop, needed a place to go before 9am when school was officially in session. Parents dropped them off at the normal time of 7:30am because (1) they didn’t know about the late-start day or (2) it was inconvenient for their schedules to keep their children for an extra hour in the morning. The students couldn’t be at school yet, weren’t allowed to loiter around the streets, and were forced to leave the coffee shop right after they bought their caffeine or hot chocolate for the day. This coffee shop, coined as a third space for many across the nation, forced those under the age of sixteen to leave, while I and other people of the adult persuasion enjoyed our morning coffee, books, and friends in peace and quiet.
Thank God those noisy kids left… They don’t belong here!
We’ve done a good job in keeping our adolescents from infiltrating our world. We make them go to school, keep them active in sports, have them join school clubs and school bands.
Where are they supposed to go? Where can they go to be in community with others outside of an educational context, to be integrated into society and not cast aside, as if they were unclean?
Are they an inconvenience for our schedules and favorite hangouts? Or are they a blessing with gifts to bring to our communities?
What would the cost have been if those middle school students were allowed to spend time in the coffee shop that Tuesday morning? Do the costs outweigh the benefits?