Today my son, Jason, turned 16. 5;11 am this morning being the moment of his birth following a glorious pregnancy and relatively short labour which caused me to leave a party early to head for hospital as my waters broke!
I find my heart bursting with pride as I lie awake listening to J and friends celebrating into the early hours of today. He wanted to surround himself with friends as the clock switched over from 23:59 on 8th to 00:00 and the beginning of 9th. His friends did not let him down. Surrounded by friends all holding their mobile phones whilst dancing and watching the time tick. As the 9th arrived they cheered and hugged and leapt, lifting J off the ground and we, his parents, had the privilege of sharing that moment with him.
This memory will be stored in the brains archives along with a multitude of great friend and family related moments for him to draw upon in his adulthood and share with his own children and grandchildren as he grows older.
At this point I raise the point I want to really make and that is that Jason has a group of incredible, great, wonderful friends (young adults). They are polite, loyal, socially adept, and embrace life,more importantly , they look out for each other – reminding any potentially jaded adult that life is truly for the living. sure they make mistakes, but don’t we all?
I admit that their move from the ages of innocence to experimental teen pushing the boundaries and questioning authority, took me off guard. I faltered and didn’t handle all the situations appropriately . Over- reacting at times, disrespecting teens who were oblivious to their ‘crime’ rather than taking my usual course of discussion and reason. I couldn’t cope with the fast arrival of drinking, smoking, clearing up vomit etc – not often but from the over excesses of teen parties. That move from child to ‘youth’ caught me unprepared, unqualified and without the tools to manage the situations. The teens aren’t the only ones who make mistakes. parenting doesn’t come with a manual. unlike any other job you don’t get training before embarking on the various challenges that face you.
My expectations were unrealistic and my responses , on occasion reflected my lack of experience and the feeling of being out of control of the situation. It’s almost like a switch being flicked from when they are kids trusting your advice and rules to when they are teens reasoning, questioning, testing boundaries. So I made mistakes and upset some of them in the same way as they make mistakes taking their ‘pushing’ one step too far. But without pushing to the limit how do you discover the limit? How do you find your equilibrium. Teens aren’t the only ones who are victims of excesses – we all do it – but we are ‘adults’ and society ‘allows us’.
These young adults are GREAT. They have a passion for life and the future experiences available to them and sometimes those potential experiences are too tempting to wait for, sometimes they get the balance wrong, eventually they will get it right. We were no different but perhaps our parents knew less about what we did and where we did it. Perhaps we were a little older? Perhaps not.
Moving from childhood to adulthood requires a redefining of roles and relationship. As parents we have less say in what goes on in their lives, we have done most of the nurturing and we can only hope we did it well enough. The goal , surely, is to ensure they grow into healthy, happy, independent, socially responsible adults. So, as hard as it is to ‘let go’ of our ‘babies’ we must remember that that is what we are here to achieve.
I look at Jason and his friends and see their passion for all the possibilities that lay before them – adventure, freedom, independence, relationships, life. They make me so proud, every single one of them in their own unique way. some make the transition more smoothly than others but you can tell that all have the skills to get through and to largely, enjoy the journey. and with the friendships they have they will all be just fine.
Life is so different for this generation of kids. They grow up quicker having access to ‘adult’ knowledge younger through TV and internet. we cannot ‘protect’ them from the pressure to experience more grown up things so early or so fast. We have to equip them with different information from that provided by our parents. both ours and their challenges are so different from those experienced by us or our parents. Our parents dressed differently, listened to different music and socialised in different circles from us. Yet we are likely to borrow our parents/kids clothes, share musical tastes, go to the same parties from time to time. we are also likely to have more open discussion. So we have had to adapt to a different style of parenting. more open, more interactive, with more awareness of what our kids are doing.
I consider it an honour to have this opportunity, but it comes with challenges and hurdles and i do sometimes falter at the jumps first time round. Mistakes have been made and probably will be made in the future. The intention, however, is always good. It’s a learning curve.
I love and adore my son and his friends and the way they interact with John and I. I admire them all for the lives they have yet to lead, the mistakes they have made and the lessons they have learned. They are wonderful young people who keep in our minds the benefits of embracing life and living for the moment.
I am blessed. i have a healthy, happy, handsome and talented son and an extended family of his happy, handsome and talented friends. I am blessed that they come here and feel at home, hug me and call me Mama. Which brings me right back to my opening line. My heart bursts with pride and joy and I feel honoured to be part of their lives for those moments they chose to share with me.
so, all you boys and girls (young men and women), you know who you are, and I love and admire you all for the potential you have and the joy you bring.