One of the places I work at is adjacent to a high school. On Monday morning, as I entered the building, I passed two teenage boys (16 or 17?) having a discussion about life:
TEEN ONE: Life sucks. Right now we can’t do anything we want because our parents are always on us. Then we’ll finish school and have no money, so we’ll have to work and won’t be able to do anything we want. Then we’ll get married and have kids and not be able to do what we want. And then when we have money and retire, we’ll be too old to do what we want.
TEEN TWO: Welcome to life.
Despite the grim prophecy about their life prospects, I smiled to myself. I couldn’t say that he had it entirely wrong; he skips across some truth there. But is it really all that bad, and is life even supposed to be an unrestrained gallop through grassy fields of wildflowers?
Then, yesterday as I exited the building at the end of the day, I passed two mothers:
MOTHER ONE: When they’re young, they’re so cute, and fun, and they love to be with you. They lull you into a false sense of security. And then BAM, they’re teenagers, and it gets ugly.
MOTHER TWO: Yep. I’m just gritting my teeth and counting the days until my son is human again.
I smiled again, because the juxtaposition struck me. One morning I walk in past two teenagers straining against their bridles, and one evening I walk out past two parents trying to hold the reins.
‘Twas ever thus. The push-me/pull-you of teens and parents. All we can do is choose to enjoy the ride.