How depressing is it to watch this generation have to go through the same internal tortures and external conflicts that we went through. I remember being a teenager, it sucked ass, pardon my language but such a state of being requires strong language, in my opinion. (One of the most nightmarish songs I’ve ever heard is by Nirvana and has lyrics something like, “You’re in high school again…” NOOOOO!!!)
I remember being a teenager and vowing that if I had kids, when they were teenagers I would be perfectly understanding and that would keep the strife down to an absolute minimum. Fat chance. It is not enough to be understanding when someone’s job is to get out from under your absolute control, find their own way, their own interpretation of the world, to become independent of your approval. The strife is, perhaps, unfortunately, a necessary component of this job.
I swore I would let my kids make their own decisions, let them take their own consequences, let them shape their own lives. This is a noble aspiration, totally realizable when they are 18, but how much before then? When you know that you are legally and morally responsible for someone’s well-being, for giving them the best possible start to their adult lives, which mistakes do you let them make? How serious can these mistakes be? You as the parent can claim that the consequences are theirs alone, but really, everything is your responsibility until they are truly adults. Certainly, midnight of their 18th birthday is a random and essentially meaningless moment for this advancement to magically happen, I acknowledge this, but if not then, when?
In what other job besides parenthood does the person you are “working for” despise you when you do what you truly believe in your heart is the right and good thing?
It is difficult also for me to accept that, to this young person, my more experienced perspective as an adult and a parent mean precisely shit. I have suffered and struggled, thought and reasoned, felt and hurt, and to have that all be of no use to anyone is sad and discouraging. But looking back, I didn’t give a crap what my parents had learned, what they thought, or how any of that would shape my life if I let it. Again, the necessary move to independence.
I truly believe that the village should raise the child, and the child should have a lot more exposure to (safe, known) adults who would be more compatible, both in interests and temperament, who could act as mentors. Because children are not going to listen after a certain point to their own parents, this is contrary to the primary project of their development. And so we are all stuck, Mommys and Daddys in a box, with our own naturally rebellious children, with no healthy interchanges between families and generations, because we are so afraid of our neighbors and so attached to our idea of the nuclear family, even if it blows up in our faces.
I saw an elderly lady at Walmart yesterday and she cooed at my 5 month old for a few minutes, and she said, “I wish you lived next door, then I could rock you and sing to you.” I thought of all the times during the day when the kid is fed, changed, fully attended to, but still cries for interaction while I stare at the dishes piled up, laundry reeking, books unread, older kids scrambling for attention, and I thought, if only. If only I could hand the baby off to a grandma or grandpa person for an hour or two, both of whom are dying to coo at each other while I am dying to get things done. If only teens could go over to someone’s house who could teach them some skill they wanted to know, and maybe learn how to live at the same time. If only we could all, babies, adolescents, adults at all stages, be there for each other and get what we need from each other, besides just a passing moment in a stupid store. If only.