We got back home about an hour ago from the local weekend hangout. It’s got a movie theater, skating rink, bowling alley, arcade, diner, pool room, etc. You get the idea. The Buddha has decided that since he is now a “teenager”, he should go places and do things. This is a thrill to me. When he came to live with us he would literally fall to the floor and cry if anyone spoke to him, or hide behind the furniture when people came to visit. For him to decide to deliberately go out into the world to “see and be seen” is a monumental step in a healthy direction. But to be completely honest, it’s also a big fat pain in the ass for me.
Here’s the thing: I don’t just take my kids to large unsupervised public places and drop them off. This makes me THE MOST unpopular parental figure around, but I just can’t justify doing it. Having read a newspaper, or the internet, or caught a news broadcast at least once in the last ten years, I understand that leaving your kids places where no one knows who they belong to is just asking for trouble.
However, after the past month, I have come to the realization that I am one of three parents in our town who feel this way. I have spent four Friday nights with roughly four hundred unsupervised teenagers at this place every time. They get dropped off around six or seven and get picked up around eleven or eleven thirty. And those are just the ones who actually stay there. A lot of them just wait for their parents to get out of the parking lot and then hop in another car and leave.
At least a third of these kids are under the age of sixteen. It boggles my mind. I can’t imagine a scenario whereby it would be okay with me to have my kids at a place like that for hours on end by themselves and me have no idea what was going on. They are fighting, leaving and coming back, being accosted by strangers looking for “the girl from Yahoo”, and who knows what else. What would you have to tell yourself to make leaving your children alone in that, okay?
Is it that we consider our kids a renewable resource so it’s okay if we lose a few? Are we really so tied up in our lives that we can’t spare a few hours out of a weekend to be with our kids? I know that at this age they are almost intolerable. However, I remember being that age. I still ask my mom how it was that she kept herself from turning us all upside down in a bucket of water and leaving us there until we stopped wiggling. She just laughs and says we weren’t that bad. We WERE that bad! We were worse.
Being a teenager is the most uncomfortable time in life. You are the most uncomfortable in your own skin that you will ever be. You want to be treated as grown, and treated as a child, you feel like a grownup kid, you need everything all at once. You yourself have no idea when you need what. You might need two different things at once and all you can do is hope like hell that someone who cares about you can come up with at least one of them at approximately the right time.
But if the people who are supposed to care about you aren’t even going to bother showing up, you don’t have an icecube’s chance in hell of getting what you need. and that is sad my friend.
So, the question is……Am I wrong for being there, and watching out?
Sometimes I wonder.
*My computer hookup went AWOL the other night when I was posting this and I missed the fact that only half the post went up. Sorry bout that. Bet you thought I just went off half cocked, dintcha?