In the brave new (developing)
world, we experience the post natal effects of delivering nuclear
babies who are now on the verge of adulthood (also known as teenagers in the 21st
century). The progeny of the nuclear and
non-nuclear families are beasts that are hard to tame. They are certainly not
the shy wallflowers or awkward, gangly youths of yester year. No, these are
confident, polished homo sapiens for whom age is just a number.
Currently, I share my “cage” with
two cubs – aged 17 & 19. My eldest man-cub has reached the ripe old age of
26 so we are starting to have some adult conversations if not for the fact that
he’s content with non-communication. I
recall the three bundles of joy that I carried home tenderly from the hospital.
At that time, I was enamoured with their apple cheeked, dewy eyed stares as
they surveyed their new world. At one time, during a severe bout of colic, I
had the fanciful notion that my elder cub did not want to be in this
amniotic-less dense world…….and sometimes I wonder about it still.
Nevertheless, I gave my best to
motherhood and was depleted and deprived in the process. Of course, this is the
maternal brief that women sign up for when they embark upon this sacrificial journey. A mother gives and a child takes. A
mother goes without so that children may go with……. all the trappings of a
“happy childhood”. In today’s world, I’m reliably informed that the list goes
beyond food, clothes and mere shelter. The in-your-face teen requires fast food laced with oil, sugar and salt,
clothes with designer labels and a home that’s modern - complete with a hot
tub, private gym, roof garden, home cinema, dance studio, sound proofed music room, a den to “chillax”
in, garden with a barbeque, swimming
pool for regular pool parties and a host of Apple/Nintendo products.
Despite the enticing list above,
the modern teenager is stressed and usually busy doing nothing. It (and I make no distinction between male or
female cubs) has decided that hormones are weapons of mass destruction and may
be launched at regular intervals at their care givers – parents, teachers,
siblings and whoever else is in the firing line. Whatever is zinging through
their endocrine system makes them speak/cry in a high pitched tone (aka whining
and whinging), dress as if they’ve just got out of bed (they have!) and
generally act so nonchalant that a rocket is required to be placed up their
derrieres to get them moving. Perhaps NASA can work on a space program that
would send teens to the galaxy since they’ve had a ton of experience of being
in space (lazing around in their beds/on the sofa)…….to the point of becoming a
waste of space.
The cute, swaddled bundles have
evolved into elongated avatars that lurch from room to room searching for
food/xbox/nintendo like heat seeking missiles. They grunt unintelligible
syllables that is “street talk” that desecrates the Queen’s English.
Profanities are fashionable so vocal pollution is the new age vernacular. “Whatever” is their mission statement and
that’s the most civil word in their limited vocabulary. Teens also sprout
bulbous pieces of plastic that they wear on their heads like a tribal headress.
Headphones are big, small, tiny and essential. They have two purposes : one is
for the humble pleasure of music listening, the other is to drown out the
voices of their parents.
Their ears are attached to
headphones and their eyes are fixed on a screen. The computer is king and you
can hear banshee like screaming if the broadband signal drops out. Survival for
a teen today doesn’t depend on food, water or loving parents. This new breed
need “FiFA, Football Manager, Call of Duty, Grand Auto Theft, Instagram,
Twitter, What’s App, Tumblr, Snapchat, Candy Crush, ” – the virtual world is their whole world.
Facebook is like visiting grandma’s home – its cosy filled with goodies (for
the eye) that will tantalise the senses.
Vloggers are their messiahs.
Teens (and others) “like” and “follow their “role models” (of which parents are
no more). Parents, in the electronic age, are less important than “keeping up
with the Kardashians!”
Teenagers are the new demi gods
and goddesses; a conglomerate with
unlimited liability. A demi-god can force you to vacate your own home just so
that he (and you) can get a bit of peace. A demi-god is the ultimate ruler of
his world and has dominion over his bedroom (which you shall not enter though
you own the house!) A demi-god has control of finances – his and his parents’.
A demi-god has his own life…..far removed from what we know as a life. Being
unwashed, unkempt, foul-mouthed, lazy, devouring every kind of junk food and
using 10% of their grey matter is not my idea of acquiring a healthy spirit.
Family is an ever decreasing
circle. At some point we’ll part ways and there’ll be silent spaces
everywhere. My teens have given me an
idea that replacing a crowded nest with an empty one is an attractive prospect.
They’ve forced me to re-evaluate and speculate……
Q: What would a life of my own
look and feel like?
A: Pretty darn wonderful (at this
point in time)!
Family will come and go but
animals remain. In our case, it’s a little, white rabbit that will retain our
eternal affection. What we can’t always share with each other, the deepest and
finer feelings of love are showered on the bunny….and he knows the best and
worst of us. Once the teens have morphed into proper adults, finished university and are climbing the
corporate ladder, Diety-dom will be a distant memory. A salaried position will
make them snap out of their divinity double quick.
My family is dysfunctional,
difficult, frustrating but growing. Personal
growth spurts are inevitably challenging in teens and the wider family. My own
“growth” into super-woman has been no doubt testing to them so pain – as a
giver and receiver - is the ageless familial exchange.
I reproduce therefore I suffer and celebrate in equal measure.
Perhaps I’m too close to the
mountain (of their talents) to appreciate the view. In the near future, the
vista will change and when I stand back I’ll be able to understand the light / dark shades of character, wit and unique personalities. Until then….I’ll live this upside down, tumultuous life, gather my
frayed nerves and keep calm!