Friday, April 25, 2008


When I was a teenager (back in the halcyon days of sex and drugs and rock & roll – when those things were still fun and not necessarily deadly) life was simple.

School was a place we went to meet our friends, skip from and attend dances at. Our parents gave us a place to live, fed us when we were home and pretty much left us alone. Life was about socializing and making a few bucks so you could have fun.

Sure, we had normal melodramatic anxieties that go along with burgeoning adulthood and hormonal flux, but there was very little that couldn’t be put right by a good house party filled with Southern Comfort, sensimilla and Pink Floyd.

Now, by a strange twist of fate, I find I’m the parent of a teenager. Life is definitely not simple anymore for teenagers. I feel obligated to be on her all the time about buckling down, getting good grades, doing her music lessons, getting volunteer work experience under her belt, participating in sports and other school activities.

These are the keys to success in the 21st Century. I hate it. I hate nagging her about it all the time. I feel sorry for her. I want her to have fun and spend her youth enjoying life. But then, with all the competition out there, she won’t get into university, which will limit her future and we’d all end up on Dr. Phil one day.

There are decades of slog ahead, why can’t she have these paltry few years of young adulthood to be free from all this pressure?

The only consolation is the hope that working hard now will give her the opportunity and freedom to spend the rest of her life doing something she enjoys rather than just something she has to do for 7.5 hours every day to keep herself in groceries.

I try to tell her (and myself) that, but it doesn’t seem to cut much ice when the heady rush of teenagehood is on her now.


JB said...

It really doesn't sound much different than what my father told me through my days as a young aspiring musician, skipping my music classes at Dalhousie because I was up late the night before for a gig at a downtown bar.
Not too much has changed, I think - aside from you being on the other side of it now.
Certainly, there are horrible things like school shootings that we would never have imagined when we were kids - but the pressures of being successful and happy might seem more magnified to you because you've been through it once already.
However, my opinion may change once my two-year-olds are a few years older.

Anonymous said...

You think? When I was in high school only a handful of people aspired to university & if they had the tuition or could get a grant that's all they needed -- it was a real egghead thing to do. Most people just went to college or just straight to work. Now EVERYBODY has to go to university and the competition to get in is fierce.

Bandobras said...

As a somewhat delinquent student myself, I took 13 yrs to get my degree, I;m dismayed that more people don't realize that the drive to arrive at a specific spot at a specific age is all unnecessary. Yes as a parent you have to help urge the child to do what you think will be best for her, but it doesn't have to have the time pressure you seem to feel. Few people are going to get "a" job and spend a career in it like most of our generation could but they can change jobs. In fact they probably won't have any choice. Relax, trust that you've already done all the heavy lifting in forming your daughters charachter and now let her find her own way. She'll fall, she'll fail, she'll skin her knee. She'll also get up again and go on in ways none of us can imagine today. Enjoy the rip and let the destination take care of itself.

XUP said...

bandobras- that's tempting, believe me, but a 15 year old is not wise enough to be let loose to make her own mistakes & not a day goes by that I don't kick myself for making a lot of crappy choices when I was young. I don't want her to have an "if-only" life.