Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Youthful Indiscretion?

You are young, my son, and, as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters.
Plato, Dialogues, Theatetus

I remember being young and knowing-it-all. I thought my convictions at the time were absolutes. I hated listening to the opinions, suggestions, advices and admonitions of my parents, teachers and anybody who is older or in a position of authority. I thought they were old fashioned and out of touch with the feelings of the youth of my time. I got easily offended by people implying that our generation was the worst ever to come out in centuries. Being a teenager in the late 70's and early 80's was not fun. It seemed like most adults thought we were drunken louts on pot and LSD, and into free love and promiscous sex.  I often got loud and obnoxious, often disrespectful, when I hear someone predicting that our generation will be the death of many lofty ideals.  I did not respect authority figures and I did not think that adults had any idea what our generation was all about. I thought that my cohorts were wonderful but misunderstood.

My friends and I listened to heavy metal rock which was believed to be the devil's music. The loud, clanging sound of  heavy metal rock only compounds the adults' abhorrence of the often suggestive and rebellious lyrics. We often talked about how the adults of our time do not know we also listen to classical, jazz, folk, rock n' roll, country, international, opera and big band music.   We laughed about how adults think we were bizarre and self-destructive but to the contrary, we were intelligent and reflective. 

As a mother of two teenagers with many teenage friends I can emphatize with how they feel about grown ups and authority  figures.  I think maturity and experience has changed the way I feel about older people.  I now respect thevery people I used to hate when I was younger. The "lectures" are no longer annoying but full of wisdom.  I realized that I was not a good listener and I was very sensitive when I was younger. I only heard what I want to hear and I took a lot of things negatively. I jumped to the conclusion that I was a part of a war--- the war between youth and adult. I now realize that there was no war, only miscommunication. The adults were trying hard to impart wisdom but the message was not received as intended  while the youths were trying hard to get respect resulting in sullen and often explosive assertions.  

My daughter's bestfriend visited a few weeks ago. He made me think about the miscommunication between adults and youths and how easy it was for me to forget my not so distant past.  It was a few days before the election but Florida residents had early voting priviledges. I asked my daughter's friend if he voted already and he answered in affirmative. Then I  jokingly said, " I will ask you who you voted for but I might have to choke you afterwards." I then proceeded to tell him about the joke my husband and I heard from the creators of the film, Team America.  The creators were asked about a certain dialogue in the film relating to why a movie character is implying that American youths should not vote.  They said that SOME American youths are immature and prone to making bad decisions so their votes are better not casted.  I knew I pushed his button when he started telling me in a passionate tone that most young people are better informed than adults and that Daily Show's, John Stewart is an astute political commentarist.  I realized I waged a war inadvertently a little too late. I felt really bad because I did not mean to offend him. I was merely telling him about something that made my husband and I laugh.  I know I inflamed him because he thought I was disrespecting him. I, not only, committed conversational suicide, but also, slayed a youth in the process that day. I realized I was on the same boat not long ago and I should have known better. 

I respect my children and their friends. I joke a lot about what they may perceiveas an adult negativity towards youth but I honestly love all of them. I know that my children and their friends are smart and responsible. I also know that someday, their children will go through the youth versus adult phase and hopefully they will be more tactful than I was and more gracious than I have ever been. 

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