Friday, July 30, 2004


I just spent 26 minutes and 43 seconds on the phone speaking to a distraught parent. She's petrified her son will run away or in her own words do something silly. For once, I didn't roll my eyes when those words were uttered to me because I could genuinely feel her pain and sense her fear.

It's hard to be a parent. That much I know. Especially when your child is 17 and their life and their mind is a total mystery to you. What you don't know often makes you fear even more. Even though I'm not a parent, I am familiar with paranoia. Dan has on many occasions called me a paranoid, neurotic, damn near crazy nut (which I take as a sign of affection :) ) and I worry a lot about things that are beyond my control. And none of those things, I suspect come close to figuring out the mystery that is the 17 year old.

The mystery that is a17 year 17 year old cousin's blog totally belies a totally different side of her that I am certain her parents do not know anything about, as do the blogs of my students. And I'm sure my parents would have had an aneursym if they knew what I thought about at 17.

The unknown is always frightening and when the unknown is your own spawn, I suspect that terror grows many a fold. You worry if the child is depressed, suicidal, sleeping around, flunking school, doing drugs, alcohol, smoking, hanging out with people who have butterflies or multiples of 3 tattooed on their arms, small of their back, ankles...where ever.

And when your child's flunked the common tests and their teachers tell you to lay off on the pressure, you worry a little bit more about whether you're driving your kid to the brink. I now recall with much guilt what I must have put my mom through when I was 14. Younger than my kids, but equally angsty and stretched.

I remember going to my teacher and telling her I wasn't going to do well because my mother was on my back all the time. And I begged my teacher to tell her to back off. Which she did I think, but I can now imagine how my mom must have felt, that I couldn't tell her directly and had to get an intermediary to do it.

Well, that's the role I'm in now and I don't relish it. I've grown up and become that teacher and I worry for the kid but I sympathise with the mother as well. It's hard being on either side. The kid probably sees the mother as fussing too much and stifling him. The mother probably sees the kid as distant, a stranger in their own house, reticient and something akin to a 1000 piece 3-D jigsaw of blue sky that cannot be figured out.

Boy, come to think of it, it really makes feel useless. I've sent the kid to see a counsellor, I've alerted the parents to what his problems are, but those things are measures that I was told to take to cover my own ass in the event that something happens. But it's more than that now. It's about people who genuinely fear each other, for different reasons and there's a wall in between that they can't or won't scale. And it's not going to be a fair ending. It'll either be a win-win or lose-lose ending.

I hope to God it's the former and when I move a notch up in the student-teacher-parent progression, I'm going to pray very hard that I will never find myself in a situation where I feel so helpless I'm ringing my kid's teacher in the middle of the day begging for his timetable just so that I can call him to make sure he's all right and to quell that nauseating fear in the pit of my stomach that something bad might befall him.

The trials of parenthood...*shudder*

Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:11

1 thoughts...

1 thoughts...

At 1:38 am Blogger Johnny Malkavian said...

Wow. Paranoid indeed. Then again, I'd probably do the same thing if I were in your shoes.


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