Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Flaming Sword On The Dance Floor Of Life: or Keep Your Eye on the Teen In The Tutu.

I'm not sure quite where to start this post. It comes from a conversation I had with the BA when things were at their lowest French ebb.

I know the teen years are the 'mating' years. We all know that. Being a teen is all about trying to find your place in the world and part of that involves exploring the people with whom you will share that world. I don't know about you but in my experience as a teen girl there are phases that you go through.

There are the physical changes. They can be daunting enough. At this time your eyes are on all the other girls: Am I the same as everyone else? Am I deformed???? Am I better than everyone else? What are my chances in the upcoming mating dance of life? What is my equipment like? Does ANYONE ELSE FEEL LIKE I DO???????? At this time, boys are interesting but they are aliens and it's your girlfriends that you look to, to help you carve out your place and define yourself as a woman. This is definitely where the BA is at the moment.

Once you are secure in your social circle, in your body and, to a degree, in your emotional development, the mating dance begins. Your girlfriends fall by the wayside as the important 'survival of the species' process takes place. Who will make the best mate? Whose genes are strongest? Who will be a reliable protector, provider and procreator? Once the animal instinct hormones calm down a bit there is also room for questions like: will he play board games with me? does he hog the remote control? and does his conversation extend past 'who will coach The Power next week'?

We all know that young girls will be obsessed with boys, music, fashion and socialising. It is part of growing up. It is normal, and its intensity ebbs and wanes around the ages of 13-16; however what I think is important for any young person is that they also maintain an interest in the outside world. What was their passion before the hormones began to roar? What are their natural interests? What are the things that make them who they are? In the end, if the only thing you are is' successful at the mating dance', by the time your peer group begins to move out of that phase you will be left with inappropriate skills and a sense of inadequacy as your equipment also starts to fail you.

Where am I going with all this? Well, the thing we couldn't find about La Jeune Fille was any sense of passion or involvement in anything outside the teen obsessions. Even her interest in surfing did not go as far as wanting to hire a wetsuit and dive into the freezing cold Southern Ocean. Sure, she likes sharks, but we had to convince her that a trip to the Shark Museum was worthwhile (and, typically, when we got there it had been shut for three years!). I am sure that she probably does have some interests that are hers but at the moment they are swamped by the teen experience. She mentioned tennis, but didn't want to play; she went for a run once but didn't want me to sign her into the gym; she was NOT interested in church and youth group although we hauled her along once to watch the BA play drums in a morning service; she liked movies but only horror movies and only if they had French language options! She expressed an interest in the World Cup but, during the match, spent the whole time surfing facebook on her phone. She did show a great deal of interest in shopping however.

As a parent of a teen, and one who is right on the verge of moving from girlfriend focus to mapping out the steps of the Sexual Gavotte, I think my role is to help her keep the whole person intact. It is too easy to allow our children to go completely down the path of teen obsessions. Meeting friends for shopping expeditions, downloading music or organising playlists on the ipod can take up inordinate amounts of time. Our job is to ensure they still attend training sessions for a beloved sport, they still practice the instrument they loved as a younger person, they still get out to educational and beautiful parts of the world and experience them with their senses, they still try new things, interact with real people and they still pass exams!

It's too easy for parents to say 'oh well, they're teenagers, this lifestyle is to be expected' and to drop the responsibility we have to keep them in touch with their roots. As I keep saying to Himself when he drops the Small Boy off at the skate park for a 4 hour stint.....children were not meant to bring themselves up you know.


headbang8 said...

Changes inside your body and head are daunting for a teen, and turn you inwards. That includes inwards to your cliques and comfort zones.

I believ that being a teen BOY actually makes you more anti-social and inward. Boyness multiplies the problem, in both good and bad ways.

headbang8 said...

And just as we start the discussion of teen boys, the word verification pops up as--I kid you not--"go flush". I'll send you a screen grab!

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Good advice. I hadn't thought of it that way as far as keeping my gal interested in her activities, but I'm certainly going to now! And totally agree on that last sentence too!

I also think there are certain addictive qualities to internet/iphone/tv/general screen time which children and teens don't have as much experience self monitoring. I know there are plenty of people who vehemently disagree with me on this one (my friend that says, "I got to watch as much tv as I wanted growing up & I came out fine!" for example. Except, there WASN'T 24/7 tv when we were growing up), but to me it sounds as if there's some of this going on with her. The phone/facebook is comfort and familiarity in a strange environment. Maybe she spends less time on it when she's home?

Or maybe she's depressed. Or maybe her parents MADE her come and she didn't want to?

And wait! I have no idea what the tutu thing is...I must have missed a post? Going to read backwards now!

Oscar Zed said...

There are so many TV shows showing swapping of Moms and troubled teens being sent to Strictest Families and Wilderness Camps to choke even Philip Ruddock, (the original vampire).
You seem to have a happy teen, so why mess with that?

Arizaphale said...

Headbang: Teen boys are completely beyond my experience and understanding. Or maybe that is just the boys in my house. Come to think of it none of them are teens but I certainly have no affinity with ANY of them.
Go flush INDEED!!!!

Jill:The tutu is a reference to the Sexual Dance. I am stretching the metaphor a bit I know but it's more discreet than stetching a leotard. (insert cymbal crash)
As for the TV thing, I am with you. Might post on this whilst I ma feeling riled up....

OZ:I'm not. I'm telling you how she got that way.