OK, so we might moan about having teenagers and their tantrums, hormones, secrecy, door slamming, etc, etc. etc. but it is important we remind ourselves some times about the positives.
Firstly, there is... ermm... and then there’s errr... Well, that was a short article...
No seriously, we may need to nag them about picking up a really heavy pair of socks from the floor but where would I be without the muscles that Junior displays when I ask him to lift a treadmill or a television set and transfer it from one room to another. Then there are his long arms when something has fallen down the back of a cupboard or needs cutting back at the top of the hedge. His strong hands can grip a jam jar top and twist it off with ease while those childproof (i.e. elderly person proof) medicine bottles are a doddle to him.
It is easy to bring to mind the things that the average teen finds impossible – like closing doors (or at least closing them quietly); leaving a note when they’ve eaten the last of something from the fridge, etc. etc. etc. but how many of us rely on our children for assistance with computer tasks. (In my case Junior has no interest in computers but my daughters’ partners both assist me no end and would undoubtedly have done so when they were teenagers had they been around then.) Teenagers enjoy showing off their skills and provided we can take a bit of the ‘Duh, how daft can you oldies be’ attitude that goes with their teaching we can learn a lot from them about areas of expertise that were not around in my youth.
Most of our white hairs are due to having had teenagers but at the same time it is only fair to remind ourselves that they help to keep us young. (Running around after Junior certainly keeps Partner-who-loves-tea fit!) Their attitude is that of a young person and the hope, political naivety and refreshing views on the environment and some of the basics in life are a great reminder of how the world has progressed. Throwing away rubbish, wasting water, and lots of other things which my generation did not think twice about have been replaced in the teenage psyche by an automatic tendency to think of recycling and avoiding the waste of the earth’s precious resources. Things which many of my generation regard purely as ‘political correctness’ are an integral part of the thinking of many of our teenagers. I love the strong left-wing views that Junior displays and whilst many of my views have been rounded by experience and battered by cynicism I recognize all too readily the same forceful and earnest enthusiasm for good and truth and political honesty which I displayed at his age.
On a more practical level there are the skills that teenagers develop because they have found (hopefully) something that interests them. In Junior’s case he has always been interested in cooking but in recent times he has reached a level where his enjoyment at doing it and his skill with ingredients mean he can serve up a better Chinese stir-fry than me. It isn’t just about sitting back and being glad someone else is doing the cooking for once (that is compensated for by the mess the kitchen is left in!) but it’s about the thrill of appreciating that the next generation is going to be better than this one at something. One’s skills have not only been passed on they have been developed and enhanced. That’s what the future of the world depends on and our teenagers will be the ones who contribute to that.
And then, on those rare occasions when they care to share it, there are those heart-winning smiles that make one appreciate one has the best children in the world.
So, until the teenager branches out and spreads their wings by leaving home let us occasionally remind ourselves of the good things they bring to the household. (Then we won’t feel quite so guilty when we get back to normal and complain about them tomorrow!)