I was recently in touch with one of my childhood friends (thanks to Facebook), and found myself explaining why I would miss yet another High School Reunion. Once upon a time I was Vice President of the Senior Class at Hereford High School. After graduation I helped organize our five and ten year reunions but after that, life got really busy. It seems the best I can do these days is to try to find old friends and classmates on Facebook and spread the word.
It’s our thirtieth now. I remember my High School as though it were yesterday. Mine was not a perfect experience, but it was a good one. Good teachers, good friends, good fun; a lot of learning, and not just of the academic sort. Sometimes I was just plain lucky--or had a great Guardian Angel!
Wouldn’t it be fun to go back in time with all we’ve learned in our adult years? I now give such amazing advice to my High Schoolers! They may not think so, but they’ll see someday. A thought ran through my head the other day while talking to Bobby about his religion class on the drive to school (he is back for a second year!). The thought was how much I enjoy the teen years. Perhaps it is because of my own experience, or that my job for the first decade and a half out of college was working with teens. Whichever reason, the teen years are a unique time of experiencing life in a new way, an exciting and potentially confusing way.
I’ve known teens who had little adult support. Though my teenagers might feel it would be a luxury to have the latest iPhone, computer, Wii, X-Box 360 (all in their bedrooms), and no curfew or dating rules, I’ve seen the downfalls of affluence abuse and neglect, and the absence of parental support and structure.
“No,” I tell mine, "you can’t meet at the local donut joint at 2am because everyone else is," "you can’t date until you’re sixteen, "you can’t be out past 10pm on a non-school night" (a formal might be an exception but then there’s a list of rules there, too). I need to be asked first if they get a ride home, and need to know that person’s number and home address. I’ve said no to certain events. But we talk it out, and though they may not like a particular decision they understand our rationale, and they know it is out of love.
Multiply all that by the number of teens we’ve raised/are raising and it can be challenging, but rewarding. There are six more coming along in our household. I'd better like it, I guess, because Bruce and I will be doing it until we're nearly 70. Crazy? Maybe. Paradoxically awesome? I think so.