Judging by the thumping rhythm coming through the ceiling the teen’s feeling frustrated again. Bad week at college, pressure to achieve, intricacies of peer relationships all winding her up. The door’s slammed shut but it’s rattling to the rhythm.
As I turn the telly up a bit the cat creeps onto my knee with his paws over his ears. But I feel more for the angst of the teenager upstairs than irritated by the noise so I’m not going to add to it by yelling ‘turn the bloody thing down’.
In fact I feel for all teenagers. Their rapid fluctuation in hormones is hell to cope with. On top of that it must be excruciating being shut in institutions all day long with adults expecting you not to be teenagers and to be able to do something about controlling your jangling emotions. There’s as much chance of that as controlling wasps in a jam jar.
I remember thinking about this when ours were home educated and had much more time and space for personal release, active and creative activities, and opportunities to discharge. Whereas many of their contemporaries in schools seemed to have nothing for physical release, or emotional either, relying on computer games for distraction – some as likely to wind them up as calm them down. Or they had the constant rap of screaming singers in their earpieces. Or used drugs of course.
Everything I read about calm and wellbeing suggests we need the opposite; we need quiet, space, green exercise to de-stress us. When do you see a young teenager doing that? On top of that the pressure in schools is so immense I don’t know how most of them stand it.
I was trying to remember what we did as teens. Probably nothing more harmful than rang door bells and legged it. We had lots of time outside. But maybe we weren’t so pressured.
We had pressure. But it didn’t seem quite so heavy as it is now. There were demands to do chores but less demand to get through endless exams. More demand to look tidy but less to have the right labels and the latest expensive technology. And less pressure to fit so tightly into specific groups.
I remember drifting through college just trying to pass whereas now drifting’s been replaced by stress and beta-blockers – or unprescribed drugs and alcoholism, just to help them feel a bit better about themselves.
Teenagehood is a tricky time for our youngsters. Anyone who has lived with one knows it can be a tricky time in the household too. A time of negotiation, tolerance, give and take (okay – mostly give). A time when we as parents need to step back and let go as much as we can and do our utmost not to have a tantrum ourselves. Find out what we can and have a bit of understanding. Try not to add to the frustration they already feel from school and peer demands, and be as passive as we can till the trickiness passes.
If we can do that we can hopefully preserve some rapport until the new adult that is growing within the chrysalis of hormonal charges emerges like a butterfly.
Meanwhile, where did I put my earphones?