Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Natural Curiosity?

This post is just some rambling musings that I thought I'd bring to the blog for general thoughts and conversation.

This past weekend, my teenage nehpew, who I love much like the son I never had, succumbed. To what, I haven't yet fully decided. Peer pressure? A natural curiosity? A sense of reckless adventure? Or perhaps, he was just being a typical teen. You see, he and his friends went to the park, bought some vodka, and 'chased' it down, he said with his little impish grin, with a can of coke.

Now, he's under-aged (19 is the legal drinking age here in Ontario, Canada), and he's a few years shy of it. So, yes, what he did was illegal, and bad, and blah, blah. His parents were properly horrified, he's grounded, and basically been subjected to every adult admonishment possible. But his aunt, that 'bad influence' erotic romance writer felt compelled to stick up for the boy~at least somewhat. You see, my nephew, when everything is taken into account is a good kid. He treats his mom with the utmost respect, he goes to school, gets decent grades, doesn't skip classes. He's a gem of guy with his 9 y/o cousin (my kidlet who does enjoy tormenting him about kissing girls) and basically, he's never screwed up before. He also did some things right that night.

1. He came home, assisted with the help of a friend who was, thankfully, sober.

2. He did not try to hide the fact he was three sheets to the wind. He 'manned' up as I called it, admitted his faux pas, and accepted the fact that he's grounded--indefinitely.

So, me being liberal, and remembering those teenage temptations attempted to smooth over things, much to the narrow gaze of his parents, who apparently have convienantly forgotten their teenage years, either that or they were both utter saints, doing nothing but studying, staying home on the weekends, and attending church on Sunday morning. Perhaps this poor lad really did have sterling parents, but his aunt unfortunately was a bit of a rebel and a hell cat during her informative years. Needless to say, my help fell on deaf ears and the often cried 'I never did that. I would never do anything that might have gotten me into trouble' overroad my 'kids do this. It was one time....'. Apparently, they don't recall their teenage years very well, because I bet they did do at least one thing that could be called questionable!

During this hullabaloo, in which everyone was scandalized and shocked, it occured to me, that in historical times, this gent would not be in any sort of trouble. He'd probably be off at Cambridge and Oxford, getting an education in life, along with latin and mathematics. He'd be schooled in cock fights, dog fights, gambling dens and hells, hookers, whores and charlatains. Many would have already lost their virginity, created illegtimate offspring, and lost a packet of their father's money.

It's funny, how even three quarters of a century makes a difference in the way we see our children, and our moral conscienceness. My sister in law kept proclaiming that he was a 'boy', I tried to tell her that at 6 ft 5, he's a very tall young adult who must learn through his own folly.

In the Victorian era, and definitely in early eras, he'd be considered a man, perhaps, gasp, a duke!!!

I realize that times are different, and all that rot, but it made me pause, and think of how it used to be. How we as writers think nothing of our young hero getting a lesson from a brandy decanter and a worldly woman. Even as readers, we accept that this was the way.

Funny how back then things were never made a big to-do over, drinking, whoring, bastards.....

Of course, I'm quite certain that I shall cease to become the ' cool, 'with it' aunt' once my darling offspring decides to head to the park with a mickey of spirits. lol!

So, what do we think of the past? Did parents get all bent out of shape because their child went on a bender, or were they too busy, too absorbed in their own lives to give a bloody toss? Was it just accepted that these things happened at this point in time?


Amanda McIntyre said...

First may I say I havent heard the term "all that rot" for a number of years. lol I love it!!! I used to say that all the time! Pulling back from memory lane..I must admit , I was the angel child (dont snort, its true) my little sis, now there was a hellion on wheels! And my best friend (who is still my best friend) from seventh grade--now she was one I could write stories about! Seems I was surrounded by corruption! How did I stay so very pure? *cough cough It was just latent. I did my rabble rousing after I left high school. Stuff I look back on now and wonder how I could be so stupid! But my parents never gave those parameters-not that I can remember anyway. Or perhaps they were loosely woven into the fabric of our growing years.

Now, as a parent I am much more involved. Here's the deal, I say. I'm going to know who your friends are, who you hang with, where you're going and what you're doing. This is a small town and everyone knows who you are.
You do somehing wrong-not only will you get the punishment due, but it will be twice as bad here at home. Now go out there and have a good time!*G*

In truth, field parties, barn parties,hanging out in parking lots have gone on forever-I do think it's part of being a teen. I think that you have to talk to your teens as adults and stay in communication every day.

My eldest son was my rebel in high school-well in many ways except for drinking, lets say that. His senior year was the first time he got hammered and it was the entire class camping out at a farm. Keys were collected, no one drove anywhere.
He didnt feel well the next day and even today, he watches how he drinks.

I agree on the grounding, I have to admit. I probably would have said-if you're curious how beer tastes, stay home, I'll buy a case and we'll drink together--so you can see what its like in a safe place. Thats never happened-I think the audacity of that concept has been enough to keep them focused on other things.

In the past, I do think children were expected to be "adult" much sooner. They had to be because so many were needed to be a vital working part of the family. So with some adult responsibilities, come the other aspects of being an adult, I suppose.

For some guys-I think some of this is like a "right of passage" into manhood.

I've no doubt your nephew is a good kid. They have to learn to make choices and its great that his parents truly care-so many wouldn't give a rip.

Interesting topic!

Charlotte Featherstone said...

I think we think alike, Amanda. Definitely, some sort of punishment is due him. We live in a very small town, too, and basically everyone knows everyone else's business, and his parents are having fits about that.
Thus far, I have not been overly challenged as a parent, so my view might be kind of prejudical since my kidlet is a few years away from this sort of behavior.What I think I'd do, my not necessarily be what I do. And don't even get me started on her dad.....he's gone so uptight and law abiding, I shudder for the poor girl. My squabbles with my nine year old is some cheek when I ask her to pick her knickers off the bathroom floor, and take her plethora of naked barbies with her when she's done in the tub! yeah, not major parentint moments~YET. But they're coming. I see some of me in those sparkling brown eyes.

I agree with everything you've said, and basically will do the same.
My only thought, and I did express this to my SIL, is that when you go to excessive etremes, instead of the child learning, they sometimes go down the other path and hide it.
I mean, he didn't have to come home. He could have used his cell, said I'm crashing at whoever's house and gone and passed out--ON HIS BACK-- no less. Who knows what might have happened then, or what could happen. If the friends are as bad as he was, then they aren't checking on him to make certain he's on his side, and he hasn't vomited etc....
he was amazingly fine the next day. Even ate at Burger King with us, with a VERY lusty appetite. No headache, no nauseau, 'a touch thirsty' he commented.
It's this sort of 'easy' time of it that makes me worry. if he thinks coping up to somethign bad is too much hassle afterward, he might begin hiding things, and such. he knows he doesn't have 'bad after effects'
and that might encourage him to drink more, or hide it till he can home the next day, perfectly fine and have his parents none the wiser. And to me, that's worrisome. I don't know whether that's the nurse, the parent, or just a liberal minded person.....
Anyway, thought it might bring up some discussion, as we've all been known to have a rouble rousing hero doing decidedly bad things....
Poor Lindsay got caught up in opium in his Cambridge days........

Amanda McIntyre said...

I have the same soft spot in my heart about my Ben. I think your role in all of this is vital. One you arent his parent, but you care and deeply from the sounds of things. He has to know that. You can still be the cool aunt and let him know that you care enough about him to sort of agree with his folks. Maybe not the exact method , but premise, you know?

sometimes just saying, Hey if you ever need to talk or you arent sure about something going on, then you know you can come to us, right?

I think all kids need a parent, but then they also need another person acting as mentor.

He obviously feels safe with you, but I think its okay to be frank with him as well. He is after all, old enough to hear the facts.

Ben is now 22 and lives in a condo with 3 other guys, has his band and his myspace, and tailgates at homecoming. I find it hysterical to listen when he talks about not really liking to go dowtown to the bars where all the young kids are trying to get in. He belongs to a world beer club--connosuirs (slaughtered that spelling Im sure) of various international beers. They like to go to the neighborhood pub and do darts! LOL

Hang in their auntie and never fail to mentio to that boy how much his family loves him.


Kristina Cook said...

Well, I think the fact that he got home safely and didn't lie about it shows great maturity!

But you're totally right--back in Regency England, a 17 year old would be considered a man, off at university doing who knows what. Funny how times change.

Amanda McIntyre said...

You know I got to thinking .. in the story of Huck Finn, which depicts life not too long ago--look at his lifestyle. Granted fictional perhaps but based on si,ilar characters from real life, so I am to understand.

Is it that adventureous spirit in young boys?


Charlotte Featherstone said...

I wonder if it is. At any rate, I thought it rather amusing how bent out of shape his parents were, and how, probably 60 yrs ago, it wouldn't have been such a big deal!