Good news is that my friends found someone else to go with them. The irony is when I came home today; I found the compensation voucher from ScotRail that I could have used to cover the train fare. Will keep it for another trip instead.
Something made me smile this evening. When I walked through the door of the gym, a green belt turned to look at me, and his face just lit up. It was a very quiet class, and until I showed up he was the most senior belt. As it happened, another blue tag showed up, but I had seniority so made sure I was in first place. Both of them were very happy to see me because neither of them had memorised the tenants. Not that I managed to get through them without fumbling.
But not gonna bore you all with yet another blog entry of me bemoaning my lack of Taekwondo skill. Instead, my colleague brought up something at work that had me wondering about parenting today.
Essentially, my colleague has a young teenage girl. And my colleague is very careful with what she can and can’t do. Supervises her Facebook, watches what she wears, and tries to keep up with her friends (which, given the amount of temper tantrums and blow ups her daughter has just through being a teenager with friends, is no mean feat). She recently found photos on her daughter’s Facebook from a friend’s 14th Birthday party that her daughter hadn’t been at, but was astonished to find that 16/17 year old boys had been. On top of which, the girl had been dressed in extreme high heels and tight revealing clothing that my colleague considered hideously unsuitable for a girl her age.
But the icing on the cake? My colleague found photos of the girl’s mother dressed in almost identical clothing posing with these teenagers.
She says she doesn’t understand why some parents act that way, and seem so desperate to be seen as ‘cool’ rather than as parents. Part of her wonders if it’s an age thing – the girl’s mother is only 30, which is pretty young to have a teenager, essentially children raising children. Lord knows most of my friends in their late 20’s would probably run screaming in the other direction at the idea of having to discipline smaller teen versions of themselves at this point in time. The thing is, she has seen plenty of her daughter’s friends wearing high fashion gear that does appear to have a sexual slant – clothes that they can’t possibly be affording on their own dime since they don’t have jobs, so clearly the parents are supporting these choices.
Is it some kind of fulfilment? Young parents allowing their children to do the things their own parents wouldn’t allow them too? That if they allow children to do whatever they want they won’t rebel? Or an attempt to reclaim the lost freedom that having a child took in exchange?
I’ve gone over this quite a few times now, but my mother had a relatively easy time raising me. I admit my life would have been a whole lot easier if she HAD let me have freedom in areas she controlled with an iron fist. But at the same time, my choices didn’t involve me taking photos in sexy positions and uploading them online, or walking out the front door in stilettos and tiny skirts before I’m even legal.
Thankfully from my colleague, her daughter doesn’t seem to be upset that she has friends who can express themselves in such ways. There are times when they fight over the freedom she’s allowed (my colleague does not like her drinking in other people’s houses without her knowing, or having more than 3 people over at any time) but overall her daughter is happy with the boundaries set on her. I can’t help but wonder if you fast forward 5 years, these girls will all have children and council houses like their parents did.
Though that could be cruel. I remember being a teenager – it’s not an easy time fitting in. Wearing the right brand label equates to instant popularity. Struggling against the current takes strength and courage that not a lot of teenagers have. Not a lot of adults have it either – perhaps these parents just remember this strongly. I certainly remember one Christmas being on my hands and knees begging my parents to buy me a Kappa Poppers tracksuit (if you missed that glorious fad, it was basically sports gear where the trousers had poppers in the sides so you could wear them all flappy). They’d been the big thing for at least 3 months, and by this point my brother and I were literally the only two kids in school who didn’t have one. That Christmas I did get that suit, and was allowed to wear it for the last day of school, which was almost like getting an all access card to social life. Then came the next term, and poppers were suddenly ‘uncool’ again, and wearing them was like coming to school wrapped in fire ants. Never followed a fad again after that, but that’s beside the point.
But it’s not quite the same nowadays. Teenagers of this generation all have photographic evidence of every mistake and hiccup they make. And the ‘acceptable’ look does appear to be ‘look much, much older than you are – at least old enough to have sex’. Surely with that in mind, parents should be more willing to restrict their children’s choices?