As regular visitors to my front porch will recall, my kids are entering that golden period of youth known as the tweenage years. Teetering on the brink of teendom, they are torn between the siren call of adulthood, and the blissful innocence of childhood. It’s a bittersweet time in a young person’s life, when they can spend the morning playing with Lego’s and the afternoon gossiping with friends about “who likes who” in the 5th grade. Being parochial school kids, I like to think that Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect, and 20 Prospect Jr. are leading sheltered lives for 11 & 12 year old’s. If not, I want my tuition money back, because what’s the point of all that psychological abuse if they are still exposed to the same degeneracy as their public school peers?
I often ask myself what the point was in my Catholic School upbringing. I’m sure it had some benefit other than easy access to drugs and alcohol at NDHS. If nothing else, being taught by Nun’s prepares you amazingly well for dealing with the future zombie apocalypse. Few public school kids learn how to dish out physical and psychological abuse without remorse as well as the Sisters of Mercy taught us.
My own memories of tweendom are still fresh in my mind. Most likely due to the counseling and therapy that I’ve undergone to recover those buried memories. So seeing Lil’ Miss 20P, and 20P Jr. going through the same bittersweet growing pains makes me nostalgic, in the same way that sudden loud noises makes a shell shocked vet nostalgic for ‘nam.
Watching them growing up, I find it most remarkable how little has changed in 30 years. Oh sure, they’ve got technology at their fingertips that only existed in comic books when we were their age. But if you watch them close you’ll see that they still do the same stupid stuff with it that we did with our rocks, and tree branches. What is texting, but
chiseling notes in stone tablets passing notes in class?
Sure they sit in the backseat of the car playing Angry Birds on long car trips to see family, but didn’t we also get carsick playing Electronic Football?
It amazes me that even their imaginations tend to run in the same well worn paths that ours did. This past summer Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect and her friends had hours of fun putting on variety shows, and taping them with her iPod. Listening to them giggling away in fake accents as they interviewed each other, all I could think about were the “Mike Douglas” shows we used to act out and record on our cassette tape recorder.
Wow. That’s a 70’s reference. If you even know who Mike Douglas is/was, you have got to be over the age of 40.
I find it paradoxically terrifying, and comforting to know that the kids themselves have not changed in 30 years, just the tools at their disposal. Learning how to give them the freedom to be kids, and learn their lessons on their own, while still protecting them from the danger that seems to lurk behind every corner, and website, is the challenge that keeps me awake at night.