Now, we have miniature daffodils because spring is just around the corner. Yes it is, shut up.
They are teeny-tiny. Yes they are supposed to be normal ones, but like everything else on our balcony, it's been
SO.CUTE. And springy! I loves me some spring flowers, they smell so awesome.
K so the other day I read a thing on the internet about a family whose 17 year old had refused to go on holiday with them, and they were trying to decide how to deal with it. I was really surprised by how many people thought that leaving a 17 year old alone for a week was a recipe for disaster. Some people even advocated things like cutting off the internet as punishment and having neighbours drop in unexpectedly to check on them, or having them stay with some other relative for the week to avoid the possibility that said kid might get up to house-damaging No Good while they were away.
I acknowledge up front that there is a cultural understanding that teenagers left home alone are supposed to have wild parties and the parents are supposed to come home to a trashed house and maybe having to deal with getting their stereo back from Noise Control and etc. We've all seen those movies. Some of us have even been to those parties *cough*
But I've got to say that IMO the vast majority of teenagers have also seen those movies and have enough nous to understand that wrecking the house isn't something they really want to do because way to end up in debt to your folks for the rest of your life. Obviously there'd be one or two who'd go "She'll be right mate, that won't happen to me" and freak when it gets out of control, but I reckon most teenagers are likely to want to avoid trouble where possible and have more sense than people give them credit for.
Also, I've left my 17-year-old alone for days at a time more than once, and the worst thing that happened was we exceeded our bandwidth cap because he got his friends round and they watched the entire back catalogue of How I Met Your Mother on YouTube. Last time we went away (the Riversdale trip) we were gone for five days, and when we got back he'd eaten all of the meat in the freezer and none of the vegies in the fridge. He'd bought bread, milk and 2 minute noodles (ramen for the uninitiated to Unzud Speak) and there was money left in the Emergency Munchies kitty. He'd cleaned the toilets and the kitchen and vacuumed the floors before we got back "Because I thought you'd like to come home to a clean house".
He'd probably also looked at a bunch of porn on the internet, used words I don't approve of with his friends, maybe stayed out late visiting people, possibly had friends around who amazingly didn't trash the joint.
What he hadn't done was any of the things people imagine teenagers will do when they are left alone. Or at least none of the things that leave parent-angering evidence.
Now while I'd love to go "Hey my kid is So Special", really I don't think he is. I think he's pretty normal, because he's nearly an adult and being nearly an adult, he's developing things like understanding of consequence, delayed gratification, risk-avoidance and strategies for successfully negotiating adult decisions. Yeah he'll stuff up (still needs to be *cough* encouraged *cough* to eat properly in order to feel well etc), make bad decisions, do dumb things and probably make me shake my head in despair occasionally. But for the most part, he (and his age peers) are a lot more sensible than we think, based on the 10-12 or so of his social group I interact with reasonably regularly.
And I wish people would recognise that instead of jumping to conclusions about what they will do based on what we imagine they might do. Because this affects how we treat them and how you treat someone has a big impact on how they act, eh? Trust involves risk - and mitigating the risks associated with trusting your kid should not involve treating them like little criminals. Just saying. Sure, have a neighbour drop in to check, but don't couch it in terms of "So you don't get up to anything" because frankly, I care more about whether he's safe and not stuck in the bathroom holding a broken pipe for three days than I do about whether he's looking at porn or hanging out with his friends talking shit (which from what I gather is the bulk of his social interactions atm - the shit-talking, not the porn). You know?
And the other thing they're all doing, these Terrible Teens of Doom that we aren't supposed to trust alone for a few days? Preparing to leave school. They're all in Year 13 (that's 7th form or I think 12th grade) - there are no more Years after this so they have to decide what to do next. Some are off to uni, others are thinking of going overseas, some are looking at career choices. My one, being younger than his peers due to when his birthday is and being bumped a year Way Back When, will still be 17 when he leaves school. This means that he's not legally an adult and makes things a little bit more interesting because he's still a little bit limited in how autonomous he can be. He's not considering uni which in my opinion is a sensible move - our family seems to get the maturity and self-discipline to handle uni in our mid 20s or so, and he's got no idea what he'd study so right now it'd be a bit of a pointless waste of money.
Last night he came down to the study and we talked about his options. He expressed his fears regarding a) the scariness of moving away from Wellington, b) having to learn to drive, c) the Big Wide World. Typical, normal stuff. I don't think he's struck the thing that did my head in at 17 yet - the realisation that I'd be on the work treadmill for more years than I even had a concept of*. We looked at some courses he could do. He's interested in cafe/barista/chef work at the moment with a view to becoming a patisserie chef. I think this is a neat idea even if it isn't a permanent career choice. I mean, FREE CUPCAKES! *ahem* I mean, a versatile job where he can work anywhere and where his laid-back liking for people and witty banter capability will be a bonus. Yes, that's what I CUPCAKES mean, really. *nod*
I also reassured him that I wouldn't be booting him out on his ear the second he left school or turned 18 or did anything else adulty. I explained how many goes it took me to leave home for good, and how in this economy it would be unfair to expect him to get a job instantly that paid well enough for him to move out. He'll be expected to be doing something (probably training), but there will be no "Work or GTFO" for this kid. I think he felt better after, but OMG my heart goes out to him. I left home in a similar recession and I was 21 before I got my first real job, and I am so thankful for my parents' continued willingness to support me when I needed it (mostly in a "Can I come home for a while?" kind of way but also things like selling their old car to me cheap and the like). I never went back for more than three months, but they saved my arse a few times and I wanted the YoT to know that I would do the same for him.
Anyway, mostly I look at these situations as evidence that my kid does not need to be treated like he's constantly plotting nefarious goings-on behind my back. I'm under no illusions that he's as mature when he's with his mates or that there aren't things he doesn't tell me about, but the foundation is there and that stands for a lot. He voluntarily talks to me about stuff, he's good company, and in those conversations we have I see less kid and more man all the time. It's those things that make me trust him. I've said before that he's turning into the sort of adult I'd like to hang out with. So why the fuck would I want to act like I trust him less because he's growing up? Surely it's supposed to be the other way around?
* Same thing happened when I got my period. "What do you mean I have to put up with this every month for three times as long as I've been alive???!?"
Wow, that got long. I guess I have Feelings about this topic. tl;dr talk to your fucking kids and make it safe for them to talk to you, that way your house is less likely to get trashed. Or something like that anyway. Also, the YoT is awesome.
Meanwhile, my arse is broken from doing handstands. Hands? Fine. Wrists? Fine. Shoulders? Fine. Arse? OMGOWIEOWIE. Also, thighs. Who'da thought doing handstands would be hard on your arse?
PS I talked to the tutor about Crappy Lecturer. He said that is the guy's style, that lots of students like that style, and that my best bet was to turn up to lectures but leave if they weren't doing anything for me, and focus on tutorials. So I'll try that then. Also, he remembers me from Sociology 101 as the talky one, and said he's glad I'm still doing it. ;-D Haha, blathering, it works!