I’m the proud parent of a beautiful blossoming tween. She is on a pendulum between sensationally sweet and god damn awful. Along with her, my emotions are swinging too. There are times I feel so proud and filled to the brim with excitement over what lies ahead for her. She is bright, creative and affectionate. I can’t wait to see where her life leads her.
There are other times (when I think about it too much) where I already mourn her childhood. The independence that is to come and the bit where I become the most embarrassing person ever put on this earth. In her eyes I’m sure I am already doing all the things that I, as a teenager, swore that I would never do to my own kids.
Mourning her childhood may sound a bit dramatic but for me there is something profoundly sad about the thought that one day, very soon, she will stop seeking me out to tell me about her day and any issues with her girlfriends. Instead she will go to those said girlfriends and whinge about me .. or probably instagram, Facebook or whatever other means the next generation adopt to bond over the inadequacies of their parents. She won’t want to cuddle with me on the couch and ask me to sit on her bed. She will rather stab herself in the hand than hang out with me and would be mortified with herself if she even considered borrowing any of my clothes (don’t forget that I am now the most heinous creature to walk the earth and my taste in everything will be excruciating in the extreme).
It’s hard to imagine when you first have your little babies and they are so needy and beautiful than one day they will stretch their wings … and not doubt try to whack you in the face while they do it. Cause, seriously, parents can be so annoying. I also didn’t think that much about what their world will be like when they take this flight. When you haven’t slept for 4 months and you have spew down your front you’re not really in the headset of worrying about the impact of social media.
I am there now. Not the spew bit .. the social media bit. Back in my day there was pressure to look a certain way. Magazines, films and video clips formed my ideals of what I should look like. That was frankly crap in itself but wholly heck the stuff these kids get bombarded with these days. I know I’m going to sound really ancient here but the racy film clips of the 80’s look like a Wiggles matinee by comparison to current clips. My weekend favourite of putting on the morning music channels has become a no-no in our house (I feel like I might as well subscribe the kids up to a porn channel and be done with it). Models that survive on little more than kale and fresh air but spruk about their healthy balanced diets (no mention of the twice daily workouts either)
And parents, who hasn’t had that morning after, when you remember that you are too old for being out past midnight and have vague recollections of the night before. You recall when you used to do this often and thank frick that no-one had mobile phones and instant access to video back in your day. The good old days when you could make a knob of yourself, and save it being at a wedding reception, chances are there was no video footage and even if there was it certainly wouldn’t ever make the internet. These days you can have a social following like a Kardashin before your bestie has got around to holding your hair.
I really do think today’s teenagers have got it pretty tough. So much pressure and it coming at so many angles. There really is no escape from negative messages that the world tries to hardwire them with. How can there be when the world is in our lounge, our bedrooms, our entire lives. Don’t get me wrong I have a deep and passionate relationship with my phone but I’m old enough to have a good snort when I see photoshopped images and ridiculous magazine covers. My sweet little tween is soon going to launch herself into all this ugliness and there is not a damn thing I can do to stop it. I can only sit back and hope that we as parents have given her enough common sense, confidence and self respect to navigate the teenage years and survive. I’ll also be making sure that she knows that while I’m going about my day, being the most embarrassing mum on earth, that I will be there every step of the way when she needs me and that our nest will always be her nest too.