I’m anticipating my conversations with my daughter in a few years time. You know the ones. The ones where my teenager thinks she knows everything and I’m such an old fuddy duddy (she won’t use that word) that I couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like for her. I couldn’t possible “get” what her and her friends are going through.
So I’ve been working on a list (as you do) that I will happily share with her when the time comes. Let me know what I’ve missed out.
Since the beginning of time, these have not changed. The mode by which they can be conducted may have, but on the whole “Ugg” and “Uhhh” were dealing with jealousy, fear, committment, lack of attention and arguments back when a relationship could break down over Ugg’s inability to fix the pounding stone securely to the cave floor.
I have “been around the block”. I’ve even gone around again, got the t-shirt, washed the t-shirt, lost the t-shirt, demanded the t-shirt back and cut the t-shirt up into pieces. I HAVE HAD RELATIONSHIPS, with all sorts of blokes. That’s experience for you. On top of that, I have had more friends than you, people who have also had relationships, of which I have helped, listened to and sympathised over. Whilst you have 3 friends from primary school and about 5 friends in high school, I’ve accumulated far more experience of other people’s relationships since then. 8 from school, plus around 10 from every place I’ve ever worked at (nearing 100), plus friends I made through relationships who may have come and gone, but I was there through tough times. Let’s round that up to about 200. I’d say I’ve got an experience I can relate to in ANY circumstance, wouldn’t you? As I said – “I do understand”. Relationships are complicated.
There are many of us “oldies” who probably know a lot more than we really want to let on. There are few drugs (some of the harder ones) I haven’t tried. I know what peer pressure feels like, I know about the tussle between head and heart. I know the decision to leap into the abyss even though every bone in your body is telling you to not risk it. I did it for a number of years and when that decision became more of an ordeal than the experience, I stopped.
Having said all that. I did have an awful lot of fun. Thankfully with the right tune on I can get “total recall” without the drugs. To be honest, nothing beats a good disco nap before a night out, a few drinks and dancing. Even then, it felt like I big fat lie. Fabricated fun. Tricking the brain.
At any rate, feel free to ask me about E, LSD, coke, speed and marijuana. Making the decision to take any of those will have a big impact on your life. Short term it can be devastating. I was lucky. I also know that it’s not as simple as that and I can’t pretend you won’t get the opportunity.
I know I don’t take anything stronger than a horlicks these days, but trust me, I still remember.
“I don’t know what you are using. I don’t know what you want it to do. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career on social media. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you insist on signing up to the latest social media fad, then fine. That won’t be the end of it. I will look for you, I will find you, and I will learn how to use it!”*
Instead of rolling your eyes whilst I check out your “oh so not suitable” outfit, just give a second. I need to take the time to process what the hell you are wearing. Not necessarily to give you a bollocking or ask you to change, just to …. process it.
You see, I was a teenager once and I wore some pretty odd things. Well, they weren’t odd to me, just to my parents. I know it’s more important to wear the right things than wear the clothes that are flattering. A belt around the middle might balance out an outfit but if belts are not worn by teenagers, well, I get that!
Have a muffin top. Wear your trousers too short or your top too baggy or shoes that make your feet look 2 sizes too big. I don’t really care. Just let me get used to it.
BEING A TEENAGER
Overall I think I was a pretty good teenager. I didn’t have boyfriends until I was 18. I was shy. I dabbled in a bit of marijuana (once as a teenager) but I always made it back for my curfew and rarely was out.
Listening to my mum, you’d think I was the most horrible teenager in the world. I guess it was an attitude thing I wasn’t very aware of at the time. I haven’t forgotten that. I know we aren’t going to be the best of friends and that everything I say and do will be wrong, but trust in me. I do remember how nothing else mattered except what I was doing. I remember not caring how my parents felt. I remember how the smallest incident felt like the most horrendous, world shattering event. I promise I won’t forget that. I will always do what I think is right and I will try to explain my decisions with you as best I can.
I will try to share the journey from childhood to adulthood with you as best as I can. I promise when we get out the other side we will be stronger and closer than every before.
But always remember. I DO KNOW MORE THAN YOU DO. A 40-year-old can teach a teenager an awful lot.
*adapted from a well known movie quote. Gold star if you can guess.