I have been youth-surfing.
I met the teenage daughter of one our directors last year and took an instant liking to her. But of course…who would not like a charming, vivacious, pretty 16-year-old who is intelligent (but doesn’t yet realise that’s going to be her real sex appeal), stylish (but consciously so since recently outgrowing gawkiness). She takes her SATs this year and tells me that her classmates are vying for the most fashionable career options. WHOOOEEE….I yelped…..what business do teenagers have with AMBITION??!! Plenty, according to her since competion is only getting more and more ruthless.
Ah, well, in that case at least make sure to enjoy your break. For heavenssakes, don’t do anything boring and sensible like computer classes or something. Take a dance class, join a radio station…anything!
I hope her parents weren’t listening…perhaps I don’t understand their worry since I’m not a parent but I wonder how anyone can have the heart to stifle a bright-faced youngster’s dreams.
My neighbor’s daughter is preparing for her MBA entrances and I lectured her on not getting too bookish. I told her to spend the day before CAT with her friends, a movie or something and then getting to sleep as normal. Her mother smiled politely and remarked that the younger generation would love me because I gave them fun advice!
There’s also the kid sister of my good friend who’s 21, as bold and devil-may-care as she can manage. But having known her for a decade or more, I also know of her diet fads (because a guy she had a crush on said she was too fat), her chewed nails (nervous over whether she’ll live up to big sister’s sucesses) and her stomach pains (general stress that doesn’t get shown otherwise). She celebrated one year of being with her boyfriend recently. I was of course honoured with the ‘secret knowledge’ some months back. To which I told her, “Be careful but don’t worry too much.” And she said, “I’m taking lots of care. I’ve seen what you and my sister went through.” I really hoped then that our bad choices had not made her cynical. I’m so glad they just made her sensible.
And there’s my yoga teacher’s son, in the hospital with a back injury and fretting over his first semester engineering exams. Phoooeeey, I whistled to him and told him not to be an idiot and spend his teen years worrying. I hope I undid all of mommie’s lectures with my “Lighten up and enjoy your wonder years” talk.
And there’s J who worries about her waning closeness with her kid sister. She said she found her crying in bed one night but that she wouldn’t tell her what was wrong. J said she couldn’t tell sometimes whether her sister loved her anymore or not….they used to be so close once upon a time. I reminded her that her sister had shared one of the biggest events of a teenage girl’s life with her…her first kiss. And I told her to just let her sister find her own individuality and that she’d stop rebelling of her own accord. I wonder if J feels a little jealous when her sister calls me to talk about her career and tattoos (she has one too and is the one who suggested the artist who did mine)
Sooner or later my words will catch up with me. I bet I’ll be banned from talking to the bachchalog then. But honestly….don’t you feel a little bad for the kiddos? I remember all the stress of the 10th boards and 12th boards and wish so much some one had told me then that I wasn’t worthless becuase I wasn’t acing my tests. And I mightn’t have carried so much heartache if I hadn’t been so worried about comittment and other such big things. I always wished I could have understood some of these things and those years may not have been wasted away in so much of guilt and worry….it was such a needless waste.
These are young people. Younger people. People I’ve watched growing up and learning to make their space in this world. I’m just a few steps ahead and sometimes I’m reminded of my own earlier selves. Somehow I feel very good, rejuvenated when I interact with someone younger. It’s like drinking of life at its source. Is it selfish I wonder, to be saying to them, not sensible things but the contrary? I really do think that a person (especially a young one) needs to embrace their freedom and joy as much as their responsibilities.
To all the young people I will ever have the good fortune to encouter,
with lots of love, then, I promise to always be respectful of your individuality
and, leaving the rest of the world to teach you responsibility, I will remind you of your freedom and only see the most productive, creative side of you as you.