Hold Me: The Teenage Years 4


Gather ’round, folks. Scoot your rockers closer, stop playing with your dentures and simmer down.

Kids these days.

My parents never had to shoo us out the door in the summer. We lived outside in the summer. From sun up to way past sun down. We’d wake, shove a bowl full of sugary cereal into our pieholes and lope out the door. We had things to do. People to see. Injuries to sustain, games to play, a neighborhood to wreck. If we weren’t roaming the mean streets of suburbia, eating from whatever fridge of whomever’s house we happened to be in, we were at softball practice or sneaking into the pool on someone else’s account.

We didn’t wear shoes, or watches, or helmets when we rode our bikes, loaded with 2 or 3 kids, down the hills. We didn’t check in with our parents on our cell phones. We just went outside and had summer.

I know how this makes me sound. It makes me sound like I need to send in my AARP paperwork and start talking about 401ks.

Today, we “made” our children endure the hardship of the first day of a running program geared toward an eventual 5k (just a hair longer than 3 miles). Two of the wild things ran like the wind, happy, smiling, talking. And then there was the teen. Our teen is among the bookish, computer loving, cave-dwelling species, which tends to become lethargic to the point of extreme sloth in the summer months. This variety of the North American teen prefers the quiet, dark habitat of an unkempt room and piles of dirty laundry. She growls in displeasure at the merest hint of the bright shiny orb in the sky.

She walked toward the door with suspicious steps, certain that what torture we had planned was worse than a co-ed “health” class. Thus began the litany of complaints. It was hot. She was tired. She didn’t feel well. Any neighbor unfortunate enough to overhear her agony might have thought we were waterboarding.

Two things. First, I forgot. I really forgot how far I have come since I first began to run. I was that person, minus the histrionics, who could not run for one full minute. I was the girl who celebrated not dying after a one mile jog. And I was void, sorry to say, of sympathy for Whiny McWhinypants today.

Second, I suspect her resistance will be a kind of training for me. Where I want to bark “buck up,” I must pat on the back. When my instinct is to push harder, I must reign it in and offer a gentle hand. Forward. As much as she resists, I will insist; but the mother must know and care about the limits of her child, growing young woman that she may be. This is the tug of war of the mother daughter relationship, no?

She will continue to resist. We will continue to insist. At the very least, perhaps she will recognize the shiny orb in the sky not is not a CGI effect but an actual thing, in nature. We’ll see.

How do you approach new challenges?