It's been something like 55 years since I was a teenager.
I remember those years only vaguely, probably because I was filled with such insecurities that my mind has chosen to block many of the negatives out. "What negatives?" you might ask. Well, ...
... pimples ... not severe acne, but troublesome, nonetheless
... lack of boobies ... now I can laugh, but bras that accentuated what one did not have were prevalent, and I had some of those
... not being in the 'mainstream' of social life ... I was not included in the 'popular' (or what I considered popular) group activities ... Looking back on this, I can distinctly remember having mixed feelings, because I kept hearing stories about some of the parties and was actually glad that I wasn't there, but at the same time wanted to at least be invited ... very confusing times, the teenage years
... being 'smart' ... frowned upon ... teacher's pet kind of thing
Were there any positives? Sure there were ...
... family ... I've written extensively about my mother. Will probably write a bunch more about her. Dad's a tougher subject.
... friends ... Yes, I had some -- good ones, too! (They were not what I would have considered in the mainstream, either.)
It wasn't until I got to college that I 'came into my own'. I was popular, and was included in every 'mainstream' outing! Still didn't have any boobies to speak of (and don't to this day), pimple situation had sort of resolved itself, and my intellect was admired and applauded. Humongous difference between high school and college! Loved my college years!!
When I became a mother and my daughter was going through her own evolvement, I was unable to adequately cope. Drugs were on the scene. Husband and I did not have the close and loving relationship necessary to -- together -- fight to protect our daughter from herself and her environment.
Somehow or another, sometimes I think "in spite of me", she grew up to be quite a well-grounded woman and wonderful mother in her own right.
I'd like to share with you a story I heard at about the same time as my daughter was going through her toughest years. It's a true story. However, I'm going to change the names and locations of the principals involved.
It was here in Houston. I was heavily involved in politics at the time and doing a lot of volunteer work in George Stevens' campaign for a State Senate seat.
My daughter and I were 'at odds', to put it very mildly. Sometimes, at the end of a very long day, the head of the volunteers would ask me, "What's wrong?"
I'd respond, "Nothing. I'm just tired." (You know how we do that. We don't want to 'air our dirty laundry', so to speak.)
Finally, tho, after one particularly exasperating day, I told her my concerns.
She said, "Listen. I'm going to tell you a true story. It's about my own daughter and how my husband and I dealt with the situation."
Here's her story.
Teenage daughter had been involved in various shoplifting episodes, drugs, car theft, not to mention skipping school. Mom and Dad were beside themselves with worry. Mom had taken to driving daughter to school. All was sweetness and light inside the car. Daughter got out, walked inside the school (Mom was waiting to see if she did) -- but then, as soon as Mom pulled away, walked back outside and was gone for the day.
Some 'mischief' would occur. The police would be called to the scene. Daughter would be in custody. Mom and Dad would be called down to the police station to explain themselves.
This one time, tho, a police officer (who had known Mr. and Mrs. Smith for years and who knew of the many instances where police had had to become involved in re this young person's life and activities) told them, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith, if I didn't know you personally, I'd swear that this was a neglected/abused child. But because I know that this is not the case, I have something to recommend that I think you should seriously consider."
He then went on to describe a boarding school (of sorts -- actually, a kind of lockup). Their daughter would be there for the next few years of her teenage life. No going out at night. Very limited parental visitation. Good schooling. Costs to parents (something like) $100/day.
That is a true story. The head of the volunteers told me that, after graduation from college and marriage, their daughter looked them both straight in the eyes and said, "Mom and Dad, thank you!"
Then she told me that the only reason she was still working was because she and her husband were still trying to pay off the school! "Worth every penny!" she said.
My heart goes out to each and every one of you who is a teenager or the parent of a teenager. Wonderful times, but at the same time terribly frustrating and exasperating!