If teenagers were wired correctly they would run the world. Properly.
And we parents would be off the case.
“Move over Mom, Dad, you’ve had your shot, we’ll take it from here …”
“We’re smarter, stronger, fresher and way more passionate … we deal in black and white, right and wrong, friends and enemies … anyway, just look at the pair of you, tired before you even get up sometimes, and you haven’t even been texting till three in the morning …
“You do a week’s work, pay a few bills, cook those boring dinners and make sure we put on a jacket going out, and then you have to polish off two bottles of wine between you on Friday night and fall asleep watching Netflix …
True, but …
And thank God or whoever for that game-changing but!
The but is just that: they are not wired correctly.
Oh, they’re wired all right, just not safely, or in a way we parents can figure out easily. Or they themselves.
Or help them with without them blowing a gasket or ten.
The emotional smarts they need with all their other gifts are just not there.
Which means they need us to run the show.
Boy, will they give out about that show … hate it even … but it’s a show.
I work sometimes as a newspaper sub-editor, checking reporters’ work for the usual syntax, grammar, and factual correctness. And sometimes I have to rewrite the report, to a precise wordage, to make it ready for print.
I have heard reporters moaning about the travesties visited upon their staggering works of genius by wanton sub-editors, and sub-editors deploring the dross they routinely spin into journalistic gold.
And I remind myself that if reporters wrote perfectly to size in prose pristine, there would be no need for sub-editors.
And if those sub-editors are so good, why aren’t they writing their own stuff, and living off that? Or at least doing the reporting themselves.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the sub-editor gets in – and is paid for it.
Same with parents and their teenage kickers… they need us.
Maybe it’s more that our teenagers do have all the parts, but they need a bit of help putting them together, or at least setting them up. From family and friends.
Especially us parents.
Like, the volume controls are all over the shop, for a start … and just touch some of the other buttons and … whoosh, like when Marty McFly powers up that giant speaker in Back To The Future …
We parents are used to driving the sedate family Peugeot 207 but our teenage kids are plonked behind the wheel of a Lamborghini. And they don’t know how to drive …
There is something about being a teenager that lends itself to the epic.
Epic battles, epic confrontations and contaminations, and epic fallings-out … epic tortured dark nights of the soul … epic PlayStation battle games …
Epic, epic, EMOJI EPIC!
Especially girl teenagers, it seems to me.
Particularly if they renounce all sports and physical activity, and all that pent-up energy goes inwards.
And you are left scratching your head, wondering which girl will emerge from that bedroom haven at any given minute.
So vile in her temper, so lovable in her vulnerability, and so fascinating in her unfiltered thoughts and evolving passions.
But so often lost to her own natural beauty and talents as she endlessly compares herself upwards to impossibly air-brushed images and ideals.
“Oppressed by the figures of beauty”, as Leonard Cohen put it in Chelsea Hotel #2
And all those worries, real and manufactured … ‘What did she MEAN by that last smiley face in her Snapchat message? … Why did John not LOOK AT ME in French class … Where am I GOING … what will I BE? … why does my English teacher HATE ME!’
Lying on her bed pondering these roads ahead, some turns already taken, others already missed … ‘and I certainly don’t want to go down the road Mom and Dad are pushing me towards …’
Even though they don’t know where their desired road is…
‘So much to do, places to go, things to see … and stuck in this crap town, wearing this crap school uniform … all these stupid exams and why won’t they let me get that other nose-piercing …
‘Is it any wonder other kids are out there getting high … all this stress!’
Epic, epic, EPIC!
A lodger in your own bedroom, because you want to spend as little time as possible with boring Mom, narky Dad and annoying little brother.
Stuck in a hurry … life going on somewhere else … everywhere else … like Lou Reed said in one of those half-decent songs Dad loves … “when you grow up in a small town, you’ll grow down in a small town”.
‘All this going on and I’ve got to think about staying with honours maths or doing pass Irish?
‘And my parents expect me to get out of bed, when I can’t even get out of my own head?
‘I’m supposed to care about bringing my breakfast cereal bowl down and put it in the dishwasher when everyone else is prettier than me, and I can’t follow what that crap science teacher is doing … and everyone hates me … I’m so hungry, what’s for tea … not curry again … why am I not skinny like Clare … it’s not fair …’
No, the wiring’s not quite right.
But Mom and Dad were teenagers too once, and they got through it.
And so will you.
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