Saturday, August 06, 2005

As a teen and young adult, I swore I'd remember what it felt like to be that age. I committed to recalling the emotions, needs and impulses of youth so that I would NEVER forget. Being pooh-poohed (as in 'get over it' which wasn't said back then but a variation was) got on my nerves. I planned to grow up and still be able to relate to youth.

Oh yeah. I worked with youth groups for about the first ten years of my ministry. I was clever, creative and available to kids and thought of myself as aware of their interior lives, etc. I felt I "related" to them.

Now I have teens. The roles are reversed. I'm the big ogre of parental insensitivity. I have no understanding of what it means to be a young person.

I agree with my critics who often starch me with hot looks to show how ancient my perspective has become. My critics are searching, learning and full of themselves. They can talk endlessly about anything and know more than I will ever know.

The critics live in our home and are fed at my table. I wash their clothing and hand out signed permission slips and cash. I run their errands, anticipate their needs and am cook, nursemaid and cleaning woman.

Before I tear off into the tangent of being an over-worked, under-appreciated Mom, let me return to the intent of this post.

I don't understand. I remember, as I said I would, what it is like to be shy, unsure of oneself, what it is like to view time as one new experience after another. I do. What I don't "get" anymore is why it isn't easier for them to siphon off my experience and advice so that they can avoid the mistakes I made. How much easier it would be for them if they could.

I couldn't take my parent's experiences and use them for my own. My children can't appropriate our experiences. Not much, at least.

The difference between us is that I've experienced many things many times.

I don't care much about what I wear. If I look stupid, I can deal with it. I know how to pick friends and seldom get into problems with my friends. I know how to deal with teachers and authority figures. I know how to plan my time so I can get my work finished and have time to play. If I have to lead something, I lead it. I know how to tell someone to mind their own business and stay out of mine calmly. I'm not scared of girls or boys.

My prayer this morning is that I will be alert to my children's needs and interior lives to the extent I am able and that I will relate to them with love. I ask for wisdom, too, that I not dash hopes or stifle them.

Yours,
St. Casserole

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Post made me think of two things:

1)An old cartoon, showing a man having opened his door to see an encyclopedia salesman and saying, "No thank you. I have a teenager and he already knows everything."

2)The Prince of Tides. Dad is being harassed by his daughters about not wanting to see his own mother. The girls argue that this family problem will mess them up psychologically. He says something like, "If, when you are adults, I have really messed your mind up, I have done my job as a parent."



Expeditus

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Aola said...

all I have to say is ... Good Luck!

Actually my 18 year old son thinks I rock (most of the time) and listens to my advice (way, way more than I ever listened to my parents) and learns from my experiences.

but for some strange reasons still feels the need to have his own experience.

reverendmother said...

For some reason this post reminded me of the saddest chapter in the book Mary Poppins, when the two little twin babies can talk to the animals, and then they're told that someday they will outgrow the ability and they are indignant and insistent that they won't, and then of course at the end of the chapter they are just infants who babble and coo.

Maybe it's like that but in reverse. Teenagers find out later that their parents actually knew what they were talking about and had something helpful to contribute.

I don't know. Random.

But I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm glad I don't have to deal with this for another 12 or so years.

mibi52 said...

I'd recommend to all parents of teens (and those who work with teens) to read anne Lamott's new book, "Plan B: Further thoughts on Faith." Some wonderful words about her beloved teenaged son Sam, who tries her patience. Her friends Father Tom says,"In Biblical times, they would stone a couple of thirteen year olds, just to keep the others in line and at home. Their mothers were often in the front row, [among the most enthusiastic throwers] and had to be restrained."

I still have moments like that.

I try to remember all the ways my teen is like me at that age, and I also have inklings of that memory, but too much life has intervened.

The thing that keeps me on an even keel is my stepsons, who were hellions in their teen years, and are now delightful adults and parents themselves. I survived, they survived, and they found their own way. I suppose that is the way it is meant to be, but it added to my gray hair quotient. When my teens are at their worst, I comfort myself with this.

Apostle John said...

When I was a teenager I wrote myself a letter, trying to capture the feelings I had as an 18 year old. I read it from time to time, and instead of gaining the wisdom of my youth, I think, "What a jerk I was at 18" :)

PPB said...

Aw.
I still think you're fabulous!

Lorna said...

:)

don't the "Aw Mum!!!!!" and *the look* just do you in though :)

I loved anon's comment "No thank you. I have a teenager and he already knows everything." it sums it up.

I love mine fiercely and wouldn't swap them for anything, but the few days back at seminary 'sans kids' are not only about study, but a retreat and a time for me to re-gain what's left of my sanity.

Be blessed likewise :)

Mary Beth said...

Oh YES! Thank you for this (said the stepmom of the 16-year-old boy!)

I especially love this paragraph:

"I don't care much about what I wear. If I look stupid, I can deal with it. I know how to pick friends and seldom get into problems with my friends. I know how to deal with teachers and authority figures. I know how to plan my time so I can get my work finished and have time to play. If I have to lead something, I lead it. I know how to tell someone to mind their own business and stay out of mine calmly. I'm not scared of girls or boys."

This is perfect. THESE are the fruits of the lessons that our kiddos are going through so painfully and dramatically today, and they are the things that (apparently) you can't teach them ... they have to figure out on their own.

Hang in there! They promise me we will get a lot smarter as our kids become adults (said the 40-year-old with an incredibly smart and accomplished 74-year-old mom, who didn't always seem so cool!)
Mary Beth

nightwoodkitty said...

When cleaning out my dead parents' house, I found a prayer my father had written, something like, "Lord, help me to understand teenagers and protect me from feeling hurt by their comments."