Would you go back and do it all over again? In some ways, I would and in other ways, I’d say a very polite, “No, thank you.”. Of course, perspective is all relative to time, isn’t it? Knowing what I know now, I’m glad I did many of the things that I did, but I wouldn’t want to have to try to do some of them nowadays.
Earlier tonight, my husband and I were reminiscing about our teen years and what life was like back then. How simple it all seems now, yet how complicated it was to us at the time. It always is no matter what generation you are from, but it seems to me that today’s youth are facing a different set of challenges that I really wouldn’t care to have to deal with at that tender of an age. Sure, there’s always been drinking and drugs and friendships/relationships to worry about, but this era of texting and social media adds a whole other element and with it, comes a very distinctive set of problems that none of us ever had to face before—well, if you are coming from my generation and those before me, anyway. That being said, there are definite plus points to being in your teen years such as the limited number of responsibilities that you have, the energy that you possess and the whirlwind of activity that usually follows.
What initially prompted our conversation was an exchange of text messages with my almost 16 year-old nephew. I had a few little things to pass along to him for Valentine’s Day, which was debatable in and of itself. I mean, he is nearly a young adult now and getting ‘Love Day’ things from your Aunt is probably not high on the favourable list. At the same time, it is something that I have always done in that each holiday or special day has been an opportunity to show him that I am thinking about him and that I care since he and I haven’t had much face-to-face time together over the last half of his life. Somewhat to my surprise, he appeared more than happy to pop on by to pick up his gift bag. Needless to say, I was pleased that he wasn’t disinterested or that he didn’t seem to think that my gesture was too kid-like. A win, if you will and with teens, you take whatever wins you can get.
In his first text, he said that he could come by after supper. Apparently, up until that point, he had been hanging out with a close buddy of his at his house; we women are just too complicated, hence no date for him—-ha! ha! I didn’t respond to him right away because I wasn’t so sure that that would work for us. When I finally decided that we could swing it time-wise, I told him to make it for 7:30 PM. Shortly thereafter, I received a message back saying that he was sorry, but he’d made other plans and could he come by tomorrow instead. Instantly, I chuckled at his response. As is typical in the life of a teenager, his plans had changed on a dime and it was no longer in the cards for him to come over and pick up his Valentine’s things. Ah, to be young again when plans come and go like water from a faucet—one minute you’re hot to trot, the next minute, not. I so remember those days like they were yesterday, and yet in other ways, they seem like eons ago. Long gone are the days of just hanging out, calling/texting friends and setting off on the next adventure in a matter of seconds all the while making sure that you look good just in case. Where he was off to, we wondered, but I’m sure it had something to do with driving around, hitting a few drive-thru’s and scoping out any girls who might be nearby. After all, that’s what we used to do, gender-scoping relative.
To my nephew’s credit, he was very polite about his change of plans which actually turned out to be better for us anyway. My message back said as much so and then I asked him to give us an idea of what time he might stop by the next day adding that we would be home all day. Of course, to him, his life is lived minute by minute and the need to have to ‘plan ahead’ is pretty much non-existent as was the case for me at his age. Once again, I was amused by his response which was, “Um… ok… I’ll text u tom. with a time.”. In his mind, I’m almost positive that he was thinking one of two things (likely both): ‘How would I know? That’s tomorrow.’, or ‘What difference does it make if you are home all day?’. In response to the latter question, he is absolutely right except for the fact that we live at a gated property, which requires us to physically go out and open it. Of course, that is a pretty insignificant detail, especially if you are not the one who has to do it.
Upon reflection, my husband and I agreed that we are officially in the old people category where we prefer for things to be planned out well in advance, otherwise ‘pop-up’ events tend to throw us off of our game. I’m not sure whether to feel happy or sad about that realization. The truth is that I’m happy for our somewhat predictable routine in life, but I’m sad for what was in those somewhat carefree moments where most of life was lived in the present with not a lot of regard for the past or worry about the future where politics, paying bills and grocery prices are just some of our day-to-day concerns. While I wouldn’t necessarily trade places with my nephew and do it all over again, I certainly appreciate that I can re-live some parts of my teen life through his and my interactions, which I am especially grateful for given that it’s only recently that we’ve been able to have much of a relationship. Indeed, I welcome whatever time I can get with my nephew, including a walk down memory lane with new memories made as he and I (hopefully) get to know one another more in his transitional period from teen to grown adult. Cheers to the years ahead wherein we will all grow older and wiser together. Because of that, I guess I can be okay with being the much older, more planned and predictable Auntie Sue. 🙂