I had a perfectly beautiful day yesterday being the 'Uber" driver for my teenage granddaughter and two of her friends. It was her 14th birthday and she wanted to take her friends to the mall and other places. So, as per usual, we handled the situation diplomatically and drew straws. Out of all 3 of Grandma's and 1 Aunt, I was the lucky winner of the opportunity to drive them around all day! )(Woo-hoo, sarcasm intended.
I wasn't exactly bothered by this. Instead, I sort of looked forward to the opportunity of spending an entire day (semi-alone) with my granddaughter (who has outgrown spending time with her dear ole Gammy. Our interactions these days are like a lightning strike. Unexpected, sometimes frightening, loud, bright and over in less than a second. The encounter always involves the borrowing something that she needs that I own and she doesn't. )
Regardless, I was looking forward to spending time just being around her. even if that meant I would be ignored for most of the day. My presence being remembered and acknowledged with a burst of conversation only when something was needed, a new destination was being chosen, or something needed to be paid for. From the moment I picked the girls up, I became invisible, which actually worked out quite well! It was a dream come true for me. The opportunity to observe a teenager amongst it's peers in their natural habitat. Made even better by the fact they were each wearing her ear pods with music blasting into their very young and healthy (so far) ears, and although they were oblivious to my presence, there I was! Listening to every single word, sigh, moan and giggle spewing forth from the back of the vehicle falling upon my not so young, but still quite healthy ears. I was now privy to their inner circle. The place where only the most important of events, people and places are discussed. NO OLDER PERSONS ARE ALLOWED IN THIS SANCTUARY. (Yet, here I was, ears and all, mesmerized by their musings).I thoroughly enjoyed watching her interact with her friends - HER peer group! She was relaxed, apparently not feeling so stressed, bored or upset because she believes"we Grandma's do not understand her. or some other life altering drama of the day." (She spends greater than 75% of her waking hours surrounded by us "old folks" with very little to no interaction face to face with her peer group.* )
She was relaxed and just simply having fun! No rolling of the eyes responding to the slightest utterance I may have made; no disgusted sighs were expelled when I asked a question. The answers were given without sarcasm or disdain in her voice.
(Who was this? I have heard from friends and neighbors rumors that she is quite polite and respectful when out in public. We here to the ole homestead do not often observe the same while in her natural habitat which we like to call home.) She was actually very pleasant AND polite!!! My granddaughter, the one who grunts when I say hello to her, was just being a normal kid! Silly at times with her friends, laughing hysterically at I'm not sure what. I guess I missed the joke. , The girls were talking about boys, eyebrows and teeth (of all things) giggling loudly and intermittently at some witty remark by one of the other girls, Oh, and the best reminder that you are NOT part of this "in" crowd" : they were listening to their favorite songs (which I've never heard) being sung by artists, whom I've never heard of either. Sigh.....
First stop was "the mall". The Mecca for young teenagers wherein they experience a true sense of freedom as they are oftentimes allowed to roam without constant very, very close and intense monitoring and supervision of their whereabouts at all times (as if they were toddlers) and stay where I can see you. (What? Nope, not this grandma. I want to go shopping too, but not here). I dropped the girls off, set up a rendezvous location and approximate time for departure/pickup and we all went happily along.
Next stop: dinner, where we met up with the other "old folks". We had all agreed prior to arranging this feast that the "older" teenagers would sit at a their own table away from the younger, cooler, more HIP (if that's even why they call being cool anymore) group of ladies; this allowing for each group permission to speak freely as they enjoyed their meals together at separate tables.**
After dinner: next stop" downtown art district. The girls chose this location as the best for them to take pictures. there were newly painted murals on the walls which they were "dying to see in person". Upon arrival at our destination, each girl began expressing her ideas for posing, positioning, which murals to take more pictures of and taking turns - each insisting that the others should go first! Oh, and did I mention that these comments were all made simultaneously with exuberant enthusiasm? They meandered from mural to mural, commenting amongst themselves bout I don't know what because I wasn't listening,and then back again, and OH, did we get one of her? or the other her? or me? or all of us together? How should we hold it hnds, our feet, our mouths, our eyes, etc etc. It was both amusing and invigorating watching the energy explode with each new suggestion and to sense their excitement derived from their expectations of the possibilities of the outcomes of the numerous photos being taken. (I seem to remember being that energetic at one time in my life, I'm sure of it!)
Group shots, solo shots and a few videos later, the girls were satisfied with their accomplishments. We all loaded back into my vehicle, made sure everyone had the belongings they came with, and headed north. The drive takes about an hour before we will arrive at our final destination for the day: home.
During the ride, the girls were reviewing the pictures that had been taken earlier, listening to each other's music through their "ear pods" and making comments on each new scene with oohs and aahs, shrills, shrieks and giggles with each passing frame. Each girl denigrating herself in photos while the other two were insisting that the first girl was beautiful and looked fabulous from her hair to makeup, clothes and of course her shoes!!! Each girl was convinced that the other two were more beautiful, more talented and would surely have more success in life than she. I smiled as I listened to their conversations and the encouragement and support offered by each girl to the other\ two. Of course, there was a healthy dose of sarcasm and joking going on but in the end - they each were supportive and caring towards one another. Honest, uncensored accolades of concern and support for each other - friends. It was obvious that they were totally unaware of my presence as their speech was unedited and honest. Something adults rarely get to observe in their own teenagers.
I felt so honored and privileged to witness this "inner sanctum" and was very sure that any attempt on my part would be met with rolling eyes and a disgusted look from my granddaughter.
Nonetheless, I was there, ever so present, content to be the silent, non-participant, watching and actively listening, soaking up all that energy spewing forth from the seat right behind me; never forgetting for a moment that this was THEIR time.
Not just for this day I realized -but from now on, each day going forward will be theirs to own. These girls, who just a few months ago had no worries at all! This generation now so young, will soon, (faster thanks lightening for us, and slow as molasses in their eyes) will soon become wives and/or mothers, with jobs, husbands or significant others and bills to pay and THEY will be in charge of our society's future! I wonder if our parents were as terrified by that type of thought as I am at this moment.
But, NOW; now is their time to grow, to learn about themselves and who they are and who they want to become ; they'll question and argue and defend their beliefs and values as they begin to figure out their purpose for being here at this time in this century, on this planet.
So, when the bills and the babies start to come - they'll FEEL ready to step into their predecessor's roles and believe in their heart they will do it better than anyone before them. They will be the leaders of their generation and leave their mark upon our society and the world. And I, along with the rest of us in the older generations, need to be, yes we will be their silent partners, cheering them on, offering advice if asked, and praying they really do a better job than those who came before them.
But now, let them be young. Let them be silly, maybe even a little rebellious, forgetting to be grateful and possibly a little rude; but with a modicum of respect please! For they are finding themselves. If we all remember and will admit to it, it wasn't an easy task for our generation with it's own set of problems and worries, and it certainly is not an easy task for these youngsters.
They are our children; teenagers: half-grown, semi-adults that think they know everything right now (just as we did). Remember you are not in this alone, all of us with teenagers in out life are going thru it with you. God help us all.
So, let's give them the time and space to grow into the responsibilities that come along with actually being an adult, taking each daily mood with a grain of salt and rest assured these days will pass.
Sure they'll make mistakes; let them. Don't be so quick to "rescue" your young pre-adult. It cripples them as they continue to grow. It is hard and hurts like hell to watch them fall down, but they WILL get back up again, and they'll make better decisions for having learned the lesson for themselves.
But for now, I wish for time to slow down; our kids, your kids and my granddaughter will grow up soon enough. (I've tried to work out a deal wherein my granddaughter gets to stay young longer but, no dice). Okay fine. Maybe just a little slower then, if possible? Encourage and allow them to have these moments, these awkward, obnoxious, mouthy I want to kill you some days, and adorably loveable on others, (although much more rare these days, lasting only moments sometimes), and create some memories that will last them forever. Because this time, these awkward, self-conscious, insecure and confusing teenage years, pass by too quickly and thankfully, once you make it through to actual adulthood, can never be returned.
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