Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

in spite of themselves July 4, 2011

Filed under: anecdotes,Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:21 am
Tags: , ,

Yesterday I touched on a common thing with 13-14 year olds, that they have to challenge the adults and complain.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just their way of asserting their autonomy, even if it hurts them more than anyone else.

We have an old family video that illustrates this well.  I’m a baby, so my brother is about 14.  The family is off to Vancouver Island to  spend time at my dad’s company cabin on Long Beach, in what is now Pacific Rim National Park.   While the rest of the family sits out in the wind enjoying the ferry ride, bro is sitting inside with a comic book, ignoring everyone else.   When the camera comes near him, he scowls.  Later, I’m toddling along the shore, my sister is playing with a dingy in the waves with a friend, and again, bro is reading a comic and scowling.  After several days, he was finally bored with his comics and went exploring.  He met an old beach comber who let him tag along.  Bro was fascinated by this old guy and his stories.  When it came time to go, he scowled because he had to leave.  When we watch the video and tease him about this, he says, “I was stupid.  I don’t know what I was thinking.”

I do.  He was being a poster boy for the oppositional nature of adolescence.

The last week of school I arranged a game for my class.  The worst whiner grumbled as usual.  I made him play the game.  He participated, laughed and had fun.  Afterwards, I pointed out that because he complained so much, he missed out on things he’d really enjoy.  He smirked and admitted that he knew that.  He observed that sometimes his parents force him to do things, and when he finds himself enjoying the activity, he has to make a point of complaining a bit so they ‘don’t think they won.’

That just about sums it up, doesn’t it?  Opposition for the sake of opposition!  Thankfully, sometime around their 15th birthdays they discover they can assert their own autonomy without opposing everyone else’s.  That’s when they reach maturity.

Just like a fruit that looks as if it’s ripe, adolescence needs a little sour time to properly develop into sweet maturity.


17 Responses to “in spite of themselves”

  1. johnny Says:

    Ha Ha that sounds exactly like me 😛

  2. Reblogged this on Shawn L. Bird and commented:

    What’s your experience with the sourness of adolescence?

  3. Interestingly written!

  4. Says:

    Beautiful post!

  5. Ha! A little sour time indeed! My 13-year-old works so hard at being contrary that sometimes she ties herself up in knots. She ends up sputtering, flinging a “Never mind!” over her shoulder, and holing up in her room. At first we were a little alarmed at her sudden need for alone time, but now we think it’s pretty smart of her: she’s essentially putting herself in time-out until she’s ready to be with us again. With all that brains AND beauty, we’re not quite sure where she came from. 😉

  6. XperDunn Says:

    There are different mentalities, caused by differings in the growing brain. If an adult behaved like a teenager, he or she would probably get locked up–but with adolescents, we know that they are using an immature mind, and we let it pass. I think one of the hardest things about growing up is the regret one feels after acquiring ’empathy’ and ‘responsibility’, about all the careless, even cruel, words and deeds we remember from our young adulthood.

  7. I think adolescents are trying to assert their independence, and sometimes the only way to do that is to physically be separate from the family, ie, sit inside when everyone else is outside.

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