Teenagers are a different species. How do I know this? I was once a teenager myself (a genealogical fact evidently dismiised by my two teenagers). Have teenagers evolved since I was once one? Is it just mine or have all teenagers decided not to be at all concerned about the consequences of their behaviour?
When I was a teenager, at least I had the decency to be scared shitless of my parents enough to be home in time for curfew. As rebellious as I may have been as a teenager, until the time I went away to university my curfew was 1am, except on those evenings when I worked until 11pm, then my curfew was generously extended until 2am. This victorious curfew extension was not granted without a considerable less- than- peaceful protest.
Recently while cruising through the Caribbean, we granted our two teenagers basically carte blanche until 1am (but they had to join us showered and appropriately dressed for dinner each evening). Fairly liberal for a 13- and almost 15-year old, n’est-ce pas? We also knew the ship had strict rules about serving alcohol to minors under 21 (stricter than my own, I would add), and they were in our company during shore excursions (where the drinking age in St. Maarten is apparently 3$ as we were told by our guide) so we felt confident that they were safe and that they were mature enough to handle this added privilege. This 1am curfew was also in keeping with the ship’s rule that all minors had to be in the company of their parents if out after 1am.
It would appear my teenagers took this rule to mean that as long as we, The Parents, were still on the ship (i.e. had not jumped or been thrown overboard and hence, lost at sea), we were technically still in their company, and therefore, they The Teenagers were free to party on and return to the stateroom whenever they chose. After the first misdemeanour, and appropriate parental guidance (aka, lots of yelling and swearing) our oldest was given a choice of a 1030p curfew (would have been tough to enforce since we were not back in our stateroom at 1030p!) the very next night or midnight the next 2 nights (which included our last night aboard). He chose no Facebook for his first week home. I tried to tell him that having no access to FB would actually be harder with all these new Friends left Pending but…. what can you do? I am but one lowly mother. By 2am our last night aboard, neither teenager was anywhere to be found. Our lack of parenting skills aside, the 13-year old decided no harm no foul – or rather in this case – foul yes no harm. Thankfully, not many took notice of the demented and distraught women wandering Deck 15 in her pyjamas muttering profanities.
So indeed it is very strange, now, to have full, leisurely access to the computer and my own Facebook without having to share it with them. Though I am no fool: I know they executed Operation Facebook and swindled their little sister into changing their profile pictures! However, she now has their passwords so not an entirely risk-free scheme to say the least.
What is a mother to do?
I am reminded of this famous quote about teenagers….
“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”
– Plato in 4th century BC
The more things change, the more they stay the same!