Being 24 years-old puts a whole new perspective on life. I’m old enough now where my friend’s parents are now my friends, I have friends who are the parents of teenagers, and I have friends my age with their own kids (and, well, everything in-between). I hear stories of what I did as a kid and of what my friends did and instead of blushing with embarrassment, I laugh at the ridiculousness of it. My friends who are parents of teenagers talk to me about what their teenagers are doing (or not doing), and I see the first-hand struggles (and joys) of being a new parents. I love being 24 because I do get to see all of this, and it isn’t weird. It’s awesome. And while I wouldn’t consider myself wise by any means, sometimes I would like to get into the heads of some of the teenagers I know and tell them what they’re doing is stupid and they’re going to lose their friends and they’re going to hurt their parents and what they’re doing is taking them down the road but I am not their parent so it is not my place (and I think in this instance I might be too old to be their friend, too). But really, I’m not writing this post for that reason. I’m writing it from the perspective of a person who is in-between making those silly mistakes (I hope) and seeing what happens to the parent when the kid makes them.
Today I saw the frustration/hurt/sadness in two of my adult friends with teenagers. One has a daughter with a boyfriend who is crazy in love with him but is forgetting about her family and friends in the meantime and the other has a son who just started smoking cigarettes and is skipping class in order to do it. One mom just misses her daughter, and the other started crying for her son and the pain it causes her. She said when she was pregnant she was so happy because she was having boys- so she wouldn’t have to worry about them. But now she worries and she doesn’t know what to do.
This makes me hurt. I wish, as a teenager, I could have seen the pain I caused my dad. I wish I could have seen him cry the tears I am sure he cried when I stopped being the straight-A student I’d always been because I had other “priorities” and when I gave up a sport I had loved for those same “priorities”… and when I started mistreating my body because I didn’t know what else to do. I wish I would have treated my dad as an adult that I respected instead of someone that I greatly despised because he was telling me what to do. I wish I knew at times that I was going down the wrong path and my dad was right when he suggested I do something different. I wish I was that kid that never caused pain and hurt to my dad/family/friends… but unfortunately that wasn’t me. If I knew what I know then about what happens behind closed doors when we do something to hurt our parents, I hope that I would have done something different and changed the way I was behaving. Because now I see… it really does hurt. And parents really do cry even if they do not want to admit it.
Maybe I’m wrong, but the way I see it is parents want their children to have a better life than they had. They want their children to be perfect and not to make mistakes (even though it is a way of learning). They want their children to grow up to be strong, patient, hard-working, intelligent, and beautiful people who have nothing but manners, respect, and a successful future. And when their children begin to smoke (which they know has a good chance of killing them in the future), or focus ALL of their attention on a significant other (which they know will cause them to separate themselves from their family, friends, and probably schoolwork)… they hurt because they don’t want to see their child hurt.
I’m not sure how to end this on a positive note. I was that kid that caused a lot of pain for my dad and step-mom and I like to hope that I turned out pretty well. While I’m not a parent, I’m seeing just how hard it is to be one… from many angles at once… and often behind closed doors. While I can’t wait to one day have my own kids… there are moments like these that I know I CAN wait for. It’s not easy to be a parent, and it’s not easy to be a kid.