Mild profanity warning.
Several of my Facebook friends are the contemporaries of my sons: school friends, kids from church, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, etc. Apparently, I am a legend. I'm fairly sure that my legendary status is not unique. Perhaps they befriend all their contemporaries' parents in a bid for higher friend counts.
Be that as it may, I love reading their status updates. This is because I find teenagers so fascinating. They swing from moments of crystal clear, mature observation and insight right back to complete self absorption in a heartbeat. They fly high and swing low. They crow in delight at an astonishing achievement and then slump into the Slough of Despond because person X called them a name. All in the blink of an eye. I am aware that they're quite fragile at this age, and (when I can) I try to offer encouragement and support.
For example, one girl - let's call her Ivy - has generated the following status stream over the last while (names deleted, but no other corrections made):
Ivy is on msnnn (:and then suddenly - with complete coherence:
Ivy is depresseeddd.. i hate januray :(
Ivy is the only person alive to not like [name deleted]. (:
Ivy 's arm hurts. i hate injections. yes i cried at school. Cringeeyy,
Ivy thinks hes so weirdddd- LOL
Ivy should of kept her mouth shut
Ivy s in scienceee- [name deleted] (:
Have you ever noticed that the people that tell you to calm down are the people that pissed you off in the first place?That's one of those real 'you know what?' moments, and a perception that is unlikely to change any time soon, because I have to agree with her. And I told her as much. When kids are little and their worlds crash around their ears, you can scoop them into your lap and hold them there for a bit until they have recovered their equilibrium - providing them a safe space in which to feel broken.
When they are in their teens, your hugs aren't enough any more. Their problems have moved beyond the scope of a hug as a repair mechanism (and chances are, they think you're to blame for the catastrophe anyway).
Our elder son is in a bad place right now, being victimised at school. Recently over his monthly 1:1 breakfast with his Dad, he said "I thought I had moved on from this. I thought I had left this behind. How come I'm back here?" He was piecing together the realisation that chapters once closed may re-open and that long-healed hurts have a way of resurfacing. He announced that he doesn't like this growing up business and that he doesn't want to turn 18 this year, after all. When I later asked him what he planned to do instead, he reverted completely to mischievous imp and said "Dance!"
Well I hope he does - both literally and metaphorically. So, in the unlikely event that there are any teenagers reading this while going through one of those uncomfortable moments of being grown up, may I dedicate the words of this (completely uncool) song to you. I am aware that this is actually a Lee Ann Womack song, but her version on YouTube is not embeddable, so here's an alternative: