A Teen’s Worst Days

January 20th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

To my 9th grader, parental cruelty seems both innovative and relentless. On Saturday, for just one example, he had a new most-hated activity — snowshoes.

He is recently at a numerical disadvantage. There’s one of him and two of us. He goes on more arbitrary and abusive trips with his evil parents than before his closest brother went to college at the end of last summer.

That was long the fate of the elder of his two brothers, who was an only child for 11 years, outnumbered the whole time.  That one accompanied us to restaurants, theater and more in Manhattan and Boston. Our behavior with and expectations of him were such that he was well behaved from toddlerhood, speaking as a peer with adults and never disrupting.

My sister had warned me that having more than one child in the house at a time changed the dynamics, shifting power to the children. Too, too true. They want to cut a deal or even strike against plans. Wheedling can give way to yelling and worse.

Let’s consider three of our tortures.

  • Snowshoes. Tromping around shin-high snow in abutting Forest Hills Cemetery should be a bucolic and pacific prolonged moment. There’s stillness, abounding nature from the trees to snow to hawks, and there’s the joy of using your body. Or, there’s boredom, discomfort from toe to hip, an open-ended chore when there’s Guitar Hero awaiting, only parents to relate to, and always and ever the lifting of one metal flipper after another. Take-away, “I hate this more than anything I’ve ever done!”
  • Opera. The son of my wife’s college girlfriend was finishing his cello degree at Juillard and we converged to attend Aida at the Met. Not only do I love opera, but it was a weekend in my old (and favorite) town. To our youngest, it was four hours of inconceivable agony. For four hours, not even the little translating screen on the seat-back amused him. The elephants may as well be paper cutouts. Take-away, “Why would anyway pay to listen to that screaming!”
  • Ballet. When the Kirov came to town, you can be sure we were there. Our youngest had been one of the lucky students given free lessons by the Boston Ballet; recommended by his teachers for his physical skills, he had learned and enjoyed — until peers teased  him out of taking ballet lessons. We had gotten him to agree to the course and when it was over, it was over. I mistakenly thought that a few sword fights, some intense masks and lots of jumping about would work for him. Take-away, “This was the worst night of my life!”

So, there you have it. He already knows what he hates most. He’s already experienced the nadir of his life. It can only be up from here.

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