Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Swimming with the Teenage Adults

Never test the depth of the water with both feet. 

Recently I have been swimming with my husband. He is a swimmer comes from an island. You know the throw them in the water and see if they can swim kind. So imagine his delight at being on holiday taking a boat ride to some islands and being able to jump in and swim. 

As I watched his delight at finding new and splashy ways of jumping in the water I smiled. At one point my husband and a new found friend sat on the side of the boat looking into the water wondering how deep it was. They talked back and forward for a while before it was decided that in order to know you had to jump in. But who would do such a task. 

At this point I am wondering if the daredevil tall man or the snorkelling little man was going to have a try. The taller of the two had already tested the water first a few times and sat on the floor of the sea. Had the lesson been learnt? 

Discussion over the snorkelling smaller man decided that it was his turn to test and since he was much shorter he could do it without sitting on the floor. So in they went one after the other as happy as could be. 

Life is much like that. When we are babies and children we learn collaboratively. Sometimes through trial and error. Sometimes we learn through observation. Other times we learn from instruction. But learning is never just a jump in and see what happens. There is normally always a parent or guardian around keeping you safe. 

When we get to our teens. Trial and error quickly become our preferred method of learning. So what if my mom was a teenager once it's different now. So what that dad already tried this and it didn't work, it might work for me. That's a natural part of growing up. But testing the water with both feet has it's consequences and soon we realise that there is wisdom in listening and observing and taking time. 

Here in lies the challenge of modern living. We now journal our lives publicily. Facebook, Twitter, Snapshot, Instagram. All of these portals we use so irresponsibly, so carelessly. Can come around again and again. What used to be a private learning curve has become a public spectacle. It has become who we are. No longer can you get over that phase and grow up and become the person you were on track to be instead we stay in that phase of discovery and stunt our growth. We become teenage adults. 

For the teenage adult life gets more challenging. What happens with responsibility, aspiration, life. It all becomes a playground for trial and error. Everything is disposable. Because I tried it I didn't like it and I am not doing that again. The ability to make it better learn from your mistakes all lost to the teenager full of angst and woe. 

This saddens me and worries me. What does the future hold if we turn it over to people who have not developed their whole being. There are many awesome things about being a baby, a child, a teen. But all of these are phases that don't last. They are there for learning for growth so that we can become adults of substance. I am not sure what the answer to this but as a parent myself I am trying to raise my children to be the best adult they can. Whether I fail or succeed, I am aiming for that. 

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