So, here’s what my teenage son imagines my upcoming expedition will be like:
Tag Archives: teenagers
Do you remember your first love?
It’s an interesting question and one to which my immediate response is; “Stupid question! Of course I do. It was, after all, my first love. How could I possibly forget it?” Then I start really thinking about it and begin to wonder. Who was my first love?
The first love triangle
Was it the beautiful firey-haired Roderick McCrae? The first three years of primary school were spent fighting for his attention with my then nemesis, Tracy.
Roderick’s dad worked on the cruise ships and was rarely home. When he did come home, he would splash out on his only son. Roderick’s birthday parties were legend! Only once was Roddy’s mum ever daft enough to include both Tracy and I on the invite list. I shall never forget the joy of attending the party without her a year later. Nor will I forget the pain of being stuck at home the following year knowing that she was sitting next to him in the pass the parcel ring! *sob*
Was Roddy my first love? I used to yell that I loved him, and that he was ‘mine!’ *stamp foot* into Tracy’s face almost daily.
When my mother told me he’d been killed in a tragic motorcycle accident at the young age of 21 I wept, but I was 38 when I first heard and had had no idea until that point.
The first… er…
Or Jimmy Green? The mysterious raven-haired ‘new boy’ who turned up half way through primary year 4 and stole my claim to being the best artist in the year. I was sickly jealous of the little running men he was famous for doodling. Everyone else loved them. I tried my damnedest to copy his comic style only to discover that my art was limited to being ‘technically good’ rather than compelling. I hated him to the point of obsessive fascination.
Jimmy was the son of a rigger. His dad would be on land for one precious weekend every month and had somehow still managed to build the house they lived in, brick-by-brick, all by himself. Jimmy had a pet jackdaw, wore socks on his hands in winter instead of gloves, and bit his blisters.
Jimmy Green showed me his thing!
The first elopement
Or was my first love Timmy O’Dea? My first official ‘boyfriend’. We met during Year One at secondary school. Together we ran away and spent the afternoon snuggled together in a sleeping bag eating refreshers and stealing mutually first kisses as the rain fell around us.
In our romantic bid to escape the oppression of our terribly non-tragic lives, we had made it all the way to the local park. The sleeping bag got soaking wet and very muddy and, later that evening, when I slunk back into my house, I had to hide it under my bed so my mother wouldn’t see it. I made it just in time for dinner of course. The sleeping bag was discovered a few days later… Timmy and I lasted about a week and a half.
The first ‘I love you’
Most in my family would of course pinpoint Simon Thwaite as my first boyfriend. At 15 it was the right time to be having a boyfriend and we were together for a whole year and one month so he sticks in the family memory. He is particularly well-remembered for wrapping himself in a massive box tied in a cliché red satin ribbon and giving himself to me on my 16th birthday. I was mortified when he then presented me with my first sexy underwear to unwrap in front of my entire family.
Simon popped my cherry soon after that sweet 16th. But that’s OK ‘cos I got his in return…
Together we explored our budding sexuality in a safe, mutual way over a long, drawn out period – an approach I would recommend to any young girl. One lesson I would pass on in hind sight however would be to make sure you shut the bedroom door – even if you think his parents are out.
We both said our first ‘I love you’s’ to one another and truly believed we meant it at the time.
The first passion
However, despite the fact that I wouldn’t change my introduction to sex for anything, if push came to shove, I would have to say that my first true love was probably Nick Thornley.
I was 17. He was 18.
I was in our local pub when some numpty poured cold beer down the back of my neck. I turned around to give the idiot a verbal thrashing and found myself staring into the most penetrating ice-blue eyes I had ever seen. I believe that every molecule in my entire being momentarily broke apart under his gaze. From then on I had to concentrate my entire attention on the tiny bubble that surrounded him, squeezing myself into it so that I might take residence in his soul, just to stay in one piece. The rest of the world simply vanished and for the next year and a half he was my entire existence.
Nick held me in his spell for a long time. Years after he had smooshed my heart into a trazillian pieces by sleeping with another girl during his first year at university, I still compared each and every man I ever met to him. However, even this great passion was something my heart was able to move on from eventually.
I guess, the reason why I’m sharing this is in the hope that, if some young person with a broken heart is reading this now they might realise that, however much it hurts now there is always another chance at love. It may be different, but that does not make it any the less important in the long-term. Love has many perspectives. New experiences can be just as satisfying. There’s generally more to come.
I have always encouraged independence in my children. As did my own parents when raising me.
I suspect it has as much to do with regaining my own independence as quickly as possible and minimising the rather scary possibility of having a ‘clingy kid’ stuck at the end of my apron strings for too long. However, I also firmly believe that independence breeds confidence and self-motivation which ultimately lead to success.
How I taught my own kids to be independent
Having been brought up myself to respect, admire and pursue an independent lifestyle, learning how to teach my own children to be independent came rather naturally. In fact, I probably had to work a lot harder than many parents do when it came to ensuring I didn’t push them into too much responsibility too soon.
Remembering always that I am simply a mother to two healthy, independent boys (currently 15 and 20) rather than any sort of expert, I can offer the following practical advise for parents:
- Always praise the positives to breed in self-confidence
- Encourage your children to try new things
- Be active in being seen to push yourself outside your own comfort zones at times
- Don’t be frightened to work carefully with your teens as they explore beyond their own boundaries
- Never jump to the conclusion that ‘it can’t be done’
- Always be open to discussion
- Foster an environment where all possibilities are researched before conclusions are drawn
- Let your child be responsible for their own decisions wherever possible
- Give your children an active role within your family group
- Let them have a go alone before assuming they need help
Further advice from other bloggers and experts is also available:
- How to Encourage a Child to be More Independent from eHow family
- “I can do it myself”: Encouraging independence in young children from KidsSourceonline
- Encouraging Your Kids to Be Independent at YourKidsEd.com
- Promoting independence from KidsCount.com
I only have boys. So I can’t really tell you that raising boys is any different to raising girls.
When my eldest son was very young and I was considering returning to work, I remember well my mum telling me that boys need their mum to be home when they arrive back from school. Although my natural instinct was to scream, something in my gut made me take heed.
Whether or not she should have been saying, ‘children need their mums to be home…’ remains to be seen. But she was right about my boys!
According to Steve Biddulph (‘Britain’s number one childcare guru’ according to The Guardian), boys do indeed need different consideration to girls if they are to be brought up happy, healthy and well-balanced. And this idea makes sense to me in general.
In his book; ‘Raising Boys: Why Boys are Different – and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men’ Biddulph justifies treating boys and girls differently and explains how parents can tune into the specific wavelength required to successfully guide male children.
For the parents of boys, I also recommend:
- Growing Great Boys: 100s of practical strategies for bringing out the best in your son by Ian Grant
- Raising Boys World a blog community connecting parents of boys and experts on boy-related issues
- Understanding and Raising Boys on PBS Parents website
Today, we live in a world where we seemingly have to accept that thousands of people continue not to show any sign of belief or confidence in the youth society, with many allowing trouble making individuals or groups to concrete their stereotypes of youths.
Yes, it is quite clear we do live in a society that inhabits troublesome teenagers, and yes we do unfortunately continue to see rising crime figures from young ones as young as 6 committing crime - but if you take a look closer, they are actually rebelling to your disbeliefs.
The simple answer to this is ‘never’, but knowing this is not terribly useful for the poor parent who wishes to understand when it is safe to start travelling around the world, leaving their family behind them.
Teenagers need you more than they will admit
However much they will protest otherwise, the average teenager needs you more than they are willing to admit.
Past a certain age, they don’t necessarily need you to sit with them, keep them company, feed them, water them, organise them or in any way try to control how they spend their days. They do however need you to be in the house, so it feels like a home. They need to know that you are there when they need you. They need to trust that they have someone to come to when they suddenly feel the need to share – even for only a minute per day. And, if you’re not there too often, they begin to feel your absence and resent it. In my opinion at least.
A parent’s freedom needs to be carefully extracted
So, as a parent of teenagers, looking for the freedom to depart for several weeks it is sensible to pad the route. Your sons and daughters should be carefully prepared for your absence.
They need a great deal of notice. The longer the trip – the more notice. They need to be included in your plans and allowed to get excited on your behalf. It is a good idea to imagine that you need to get their permission. In fact, this is not really all that far from the truth. You may be in charge – but your first responsibility as a parent is to them.
I personally believe that a parent’s freedom requires careful extraction from routine family existence. The second we assume it is our right to pick up and drop everything for a few weeks to ‘take care of our own needs’, the second our offspring will balk at the idea. Instead, by giving them the respect they deserve, and building a web of trust and sharing around the event of our departure, we can ensure that our family life remains stable and that we will come home to supportive teens rather than upset kids who feel they have been ’abandoned’.
I asked my 15 son how he feels when I go travelling.
He said, “I’m glad that you feel you can go out and see the world. You don’t have to stay rooted in one spot. If you want to go to Nepal, or anywhere, you should!”
Awwwww…. isn’t he lovely?
“How do you get on when I’m not around?” I asked.
Good grief… he’s a teenage boy. What did I expect? “Can you be more specific?” I asked.
“Um…” he mumbled. “I don’t know. I miss you a bit.” *chuckle*
“Do you ever wish you were coming along too?” I asked.
“Not really. We all have our own tastes in where we want to go. Yours is exploring for elephants in Nepal. I would rather travel across America.”
I think this is a cool idea and suggest we might do it together one day.
“Maybe. But I’d rather do it with a friend!”
LOL. I guess we all like our own breed of adventure. Like mother like son! I can’t help but be proud.