Three words that a 15 year old told me they understood the difference between the other day. I am fortunate in many ways to have many teenagers around me, at work and home, they keep me honest
humble and entertained, sometimes all three at once. I can say hand on my heart that I have been in states (lust, like and love) of all three of those, and it was not until my late 40’s that I really got my head around those and really more recently when I can say that I have a good handle on who I am and which of the three ls are operating in my life (heart, mind and soul).
I have often told teenagers that it is upstairs for thinking, down stairs for dancing. I am pleased that in my youth my sexual escapades were pretty limited, in fact my whole girlfriend thing was none existent, however this is not a blog about sex, you will have to search for that, I will write about sexuality but not in such a public forum, I will keep it PG rated here. I have had to be a big meany and be a spoiler in the last couple of weeks, be instrumental in putting a spanner in the works of a teen romance.
You see I just don’t understand, I am judgmental, confused and too quick to make a decision (well that’s what I am accused of). Now don’t get me wrong, a little teenage romance is fine, life would be dull without it, but this whole exclusive dating thing, and declarations of love are just beyond my ability to rationalise. I get the feeling that young people get when someone else is attracted to them, lord knows it is exciting enough when it happened to me. Except well it maybe, kind of perhaps didn’t happen to me.
I was a classic geek as a child, a skinny carrot top runt as a boy and a glasses wearing pointy head, arts orientated intellectual as a teenager. I did enjoy some sports however I was a good guy and as we know it seems like the good guys never get the girls, teenage girls are looking for that hint of danger, that classic bad boy, James Dean, leather jacket, motor bike, bedroom eyes. The load your shotgun Pa, Mary Ellen done brought one of those City Slickers round home again, kind of guy. I knew plenty of girls and was friends with a few but most generally considered a poor catch, unattractive. I would have moved heaven and earth and declared my undying love for anyone who showed attention to me, let alone someone who liked or desired me.
Well over the years of singledom, I toyed with the idea of being a bad boy, but just didn’t have the cred, ok I learnt how to flirt and I could have my share of one night stands but not my style. I did get it wrong on occasion, hurt some people and got hurt, I coped with the being hurt but it was pretty damn tough at times, absolutely lonely and miserable. I survived because deep down I had a knowledge of who I was, I had some good friends and I had purpose with my children. As to the women I hurt, well I still blush at times when I think of it and I have regrets, they all have processed it in different ways, some have moved on others well I don’t know, but they too are adults who have worked through their issues but teenagers.
Teenagers, well life is full of angst, finality, certainty, they live it at full speed full of vigor, (or piss and wind) as some of the more mature amongst us might say. Full of an insouciant insolence waving two fingers and saying screw you to the world, live a fast life, die young and be a beautiful corpse, you see there is the fourth l, the lie. The lie is that teenagers are invincible, beyond reach and immortal, that life is fair and everything works out, listening to that lie creates lies, teenagers wont tell themselves the truth because of the lie and then they create a narrative that is essentially a lie because if the truth were faced then they would have to confront it however, they don’t have the ticking time bomb of a certain mortality, aging bones, creaking joints, abs that have slipped to their stomachs, that I and others deal with, the truth doesn’t confront them in the mirror. the truth comes from the lips of adults, authority figures, parents and employers, the truth comes in academic results it comes in many guises.
Many people hide the truth from their teenagers and children to protect them, from their students to encourage them or so they don’t become, dis-heartened, unfortunately being protected from too much truth can cripple, corrupt and debase them and end up hurting them. I am a teller of truth, and whilst it is difficult sometimes it is the only way for me to have integrity and be a good teacher, friend, parent.
Live,laugh,love and be truthful.