I have heard it said a lot lately, that teenagers should quit moping, after all they don’t have it as bad as a senior in high school during the Vietnam war did. Agreed. For sure. Every era has their own bad time. As a 48 year old myself, I’d say this current situation with the Coronavirus is the first big hit we’ve felt since 9/11. Even after 9/11, most of our lives continued as normal. We have had it pretty easy compared to previous generations.
The thing is, I think it is really shitty to say something like that about our teenagers right now. They are stuck at home – sounds like no big deal. But it’s been 2 months now, and that can start to play mind games with a teenager – heck with all of us. Let them be upset, and have a bad day. Yes, they aren’t being drafted to fight a war…but this is their time. Remember being 16? This is where they are at right now, and it sucks. They should feel on top of the world, invincible, but they don’t.
I am angered daily when I think of how everyone’s mental and emotional health is not taken into consideration when it comes to being on “lockdown.” As an adult, I have days when I want to sit and cry. I’m an extrovert, so if I think too long on the idea of having NOWHERE to go, I can begin to feel claustrophobic. I feel that panic as an adult with many years of experience, and learning to handle my feelings. Imagine being a 16 year old, whose life revolves around friendships and having a good time? That’s how teenagers are suppose to be. It is part of the growing up cycle. It doesn’t always mean they are selfish. No, they are actually insecure, confused by sudden changes in themselves, and desperate to belong. So for crying out loud, back off and cut them some slack.
Personally, I have been amazed at how all of my children have handled this. Probably better than myself. I keep my emotions in check around them, but often cry myself to sleep at night. I cry because I am not sure what to believe anymore, I miss going out, I miss my friends, and I worry life will never go back to normal. So if my kid texts me from the basement at 3am saying, “Mom is this true?,” as he is bombarded with bad news thanks to technology, I am not going to tell him, “Lighten up. All you have to do is stay home. It’s no big deal.” No – their feelings count, just as ours do. I am going to tell him we can talk as long as he wants, and please go ahead and sleep in tomorrow.
The world our teenagers live in now is so very different than when I was a teenager. I didn’t pay much attention to the news when I was young. I don’t remember thinking on very heavy topics, other than who I was going to date, and what I was going to wear. Now, with social media, it is thrown in our children’s faces. It’s got to be a lot to handle at times. I can’t imagine. I hate it all myself most days, and I am an adult, fairly equipped to handle bad news.
I have a 16 and a 17 year old. They were scheduled to get their licenses in May. They were excited about summer jobs. That is all put on hold for now. I think that probably really sucks, and I am not going to try to convince them otherwise. They aren’t going to get a pep rally speech from me telling them cheer up! We can have so much fun at home! If I were them, I’d be very disappointed. (plus I hated pep rallies and usually skipped them) My kids at home are 10, 14, 16, & 17. We haven’t had any of their friends over now for 2 months. My ten year old is my little shadow and seems fine most days. But once in a while it hits me, and I look at her sweet little face and think, wow – she hasn’t giggled with a girlfriend in two months. (FaceTime isn’t the same) Can this be healthy? I put up a trampoline because I love to see her smile. She loves it, but most days she jumps alone or relies on one of us “big people” to jump with her. It breaks my heart. I long to see her jump on there all day with another silly girl who will take part in all of the shenanigans with her. Our home is usually packed with kids on the weekend, day and night. Even I miss their awesome friends. They get so few summers before they are all grown up, and that is breaking my heart.
This isn’t a piece about my opinion on the shelter in place. I’ll keep that to myself. My heart is just aching for the younger people, so I am venting a bit, assuming other moms are feeling the same. I want them to be able to act young. They are not as carefree as they should be, as they worry about the future. I will probably, before too long, allow my teens to work during all of this. The thought of them getting their first jobs, and having to wear a mask and gloves for it, is a bit nauseating. Just being human here. I mean will it be fun and exciting, or freaky as hell? Will they make new friends if they can’t smile at each other? I am a mom – I think about these things. I sometimes feel like we are just winging this stuff, and will deal with emotional issues later?
And by the way, happy Mother’s Day to all of you amazing momma’s out there. During this time, as mother’s, we often feel “on” all the time, making sure everyone is ok, and everyone is smiling…remember that this really does suck, and if your kids are old enough to use that word, go ahead and plop on the couch with them, and completely agree.