When I was growing up, my ears were assailed continuously by the monotonous “when-I-was-your-age” stories from the elderly.
Every undertaking, including going to school, was narrated as having been a feat worthy of honour or a medallion. This made me feel like I belonged to a degeneration of a generation. With the passage of time, however, some wisdom has permeated my skull. There is nothing inherently wrong with my generation! I am now also qualified to say to the itinerant youngsters “when I was your age; birds could defy the law of aerodynamics, they could fly backwards while upside down!”
There seems to exist a natural variance of perspectives between generations. Every new generation regards itself as being sharper and smarter than the preceding one. The older generation views the younger one as being uncouth, hotheaded and spoiled. Parents just can’t understand why their sons plait hair and wear earrings, while daughters barb their hair and dress like boys. Such is life when one is young; fads make sense! No generation can truthfully claim to have been exempt from fads during their time. It therefore makes adolescence sense to wear sagging pair of pants exposing briefs with no qualms. Those slits, those short skirts and dresses, didn’t some bygone generation once strut the streets in them? Fashion has a pernicious habit of leaving and then returning to taunt us when we have grown out of it; albeit with extra verve.
Adolescence is the threshold to adulthood. It is the time in life when a person is full of life and curiosity. It is a period of self-discovery or loss of self. You can see the manifestation of this even in the way some youths walk. Suddenly, your beloved sonny assumes a strange manner of walking. There is a spring in his walk, and with each step, there is a corresponding jerk of a shoulder. When he speaks to his colleagues, you cannot make heads or tails of the nouns, pronouns or verbs they use. You always believed that you were raising angels for children. All those nice bedtime stories, the Lord’s prayer memorised front and backwards. Then came the reality call. Your teenage son walking in with his breath reeking of alcohol disguised with Colgate or onion. Instead of taking his usual seat to watch TV, he feigns a headache and goes to bed early. What has become of his springy strides?
All adults were once young. They, like their children after them, once pursued fun-centred lives. The older generation then was always on hand, cane-in-hand where necessary to enforce guidance. Left to the folly of their own wisdom, the young are a danger to themselves and their society. The young will always behave young and are entitled to their youth. The challenge for adults is how to empathise as they supervise the youths. The young have never been old before and can never in their wildest imagination comprehend the mechanics of an “old fashioned” minds.
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