Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Those Mad, Mad Years

I am discovering plenty every day.

Adolescence, the awakening. No more child, the innocence gone and only memories of the cute 'was' is etched in our memories. Been down this road with my kid.... another ongoing.

Both Other Half and I truly enjoyed our kids' childhood. Am glad for our lil one. Cos the second time around, you know the road better. And you tend to be more relaxed. When difficult moments come, you know there is an end to that tunnel.... But we can never claim to totally know, cos each kid is still different.

It seems the years between 14-17 are the most reckless years. A pre-teen is fun. They listen and obey.... well, most of the time, anyway. But the teen years that follow will awaken the need for attention of a different sort; socialization in the real sense, go out, hang out... with peers.... Man is a social creature and this age marks the beginning of this need to socialize. Their world expands to beyond their parents. I call this period the marginal years, years of self discovery. I now understand better why the choice of peers is very important too. Studies on teen brains are beginning to show that the recklessness is very real during those 'mad years'. I've just reacquainted myself again with terms such as amygdala, myelin sheath, etc, etc... My biology is rusty but it is still enough to help me understand the physiology of the changes, somewhat. So, because of that, being with their own peer is something that they automatically gravitate towards. Recklessness during this time also means giving in to the pressure of your peers (one seeks peer approval) and given the fact that all are in the same phase, it's double jeopardy. Peer pressure makes us do lots of crazy things. We lose some along the way due to the craziness. Those who survived the recklessness of the youth survived because they are supposed to be naturally the better specimens... the process of natural selection takes place. Well, in theory. So the recklessness was also nature's way of singling out the undesirable ones...

I now understand better why my elders had this set of rules to follow. Kids who are mollycoddled are more likely to go wayward. Kids who have everything too easy turn soft too easily. Kids need more than just their parents to 'parent' them. My elders might not have understood the biology behind it but even they understood the importance of the communal role in raising a kid. Our boy had the benefit of this communal role via a few of our church friends. But in today's individualistic world, it's every one for their own... well, most of the time anyway. I now understand why my mom said sometimes our kids must be taught by others and that parents should sometimes empower others with that authority to discipline their kids. My teachers had my parents blessings to cane me. Touch a kid today, and you might find yourself being hauled to the police station. Kids learn that they not only had themselves to please but also the community. Those mad, mad years require community effort. But these days, most of us would just shrug this role off.

It seems the 'madness' begins right around 12 and might even last up till 25. But there is good news. The mind becomes sensible and recklessness reduces with age. LOL! Adulthood, it seems catches up with everyone. And fatherhood, it seems tamper the tempest in the male species by reducing their testosterones. How's that? But the road to it is fraught with unknowns.

Still the problem seems to be those mad, mad years. And I realize this too.... we seem to be lacking that community spirit in raising each other's kids. We are too caught up by the individual in us to bother. That community upbringing has now been taken over by tuition centers where many kids spend most of their time. I know many of them spend their weekdays at school and tuition centers. And tuition centers take up their weekends. They are left with hardly much time to hang around their own neighborhood. Their hanging places centre around those tuition centers. Communal roles have now been taken over by peers.

Playing games have gone into their homes, seated on a chair and facing the computer screen.... 21st century interaction. So we make excuse adn say we go for quality.

An American friend of mine used to complain to me that American kids spend way too much time on sports. I think physical games are better than the virtual ones. At least physical games come with physical limitations. Physical games are played outdoor. Digital ones come with virtual ones and we know that they can continue to be pushed as long as you have a computer with you. It can be restarted again and again. No end, no moving on.... one can even play till one drops dead at the chair!

What caught my attention more than anything is how shallow many of these kids are. They are a generation of throwaways. Bored with a phone? Get a new one! As long as you have the cash, there is no problem. And that is why too more kids are willing to do anything for it. Those mad, mad years make it all the more fun, especially with their peers to cheer them on; senses suppressed (or heightened, depends on how you see it)! Mad, mad years. They're necessary to prepare one for his future but so many go sesat.... but I supposed they'll regain their sensibility, somewhere down the rites of this passage... hopefully with just scars and not just festering wounds.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde... rupa-rupanya there's a little truth to the novel. It has to do with a little chemical adjustment that the brain undergoes. And why this post.. of late I've been in contact with teens who, from all outward appearance seem to be a picture of well-being but upon scrutiny, seem to have this something that is just quite unexplainable.

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