Parenting and Teening

Parenting and Teening

Written by Jeff Rogers, Posted on , in Section Family Matters

Dancing on a Rope: Parenting and Teening

"Teach your children well...

Teach your parents well...

Just look at them and sigh,

And know that they love you."

Graham Nash

For years before my daughter was born, I had recurring nightmares that her mother would give birth to a teenager.  The ludicrous physical pain aside, just the thought of having to deal with hormones on parade right off the bat scared me to death. Having been a teacher and school principal for years, and already afraid of seriously engaging in the complicated art and science of "parenting," the last thing I wanted was to also face an onslaught of relentless "teening" in my own home without some kind of thorough maybe a dozen or so years of childhood first.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sang about this very conflict in their highly acclaimed hit called "Teach Your Children."  New parents have no clue that while they attempt to do their job of parenting, their children will be very busy doing their job of teening. Parenting is all about molding children to be and do whatever, while teening is all about resisting any such efforts every step of the way.  Perhaps this is the ongoing conflict the song so aptly addresses, and then concludes that if you knew it was coming, "you would cry."

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to write about on this conflict of parenting and teening, and then I remembered I had written a poem on the topic a few years earlier when my daughter was in the throes of teenhood.  In the poem, I liken parenting while in the midst of teening is like "dancing on a rope." I imagined such would be difficult, if not impossible, but seemed all the more like an accurate depiction of what parents and their teenagers face together universally.

Without further adoo, here is that poem, entitled, "Dancing on a Rope." It is my daughter's voice in the poem, trying to make sense of me trying to be a dad.  Enjoy!

Dancing on a Rope

by J. Alan R., for Kayleen

so, you want to know 
what it's like 
to be me? 
i could ask 
you even give a rip? 
i could say 
take a flying leap! 
but maybe, just maybe  
there's something i can say.

i could say... 
i want you to know who i am, 
but mostly i just don't even want to talk to you. 
i want to plug myself in, 
but mostly all i think about is gettin' unplugged. 
i want to answer the phone, 
but mostly i just want to hang up. 
i want to be silent, 
but mostly all i want to do is scream. 
i want to stand still, 
but mostly i want to dance like the devil. 
and i want to walk, 
but mostly i want to run like hell.

do you see? 
i'm a kid, 
but i'm not. 
i'm a person, 
with no identity. 
i'm lookin' for answers, 
in a world that tells lies. 
who am i? 
who am i supposed to be? 
where am i? 
where am i supposed to go? 
and why do you care? 
why does it matter what i say?

it's like... 
i'm alone, 
but it's not just me,  
they're out there too 
my friends for me, 
not way out,  
but just far enough, 
texting for free. 
it's a circus in the sky 
and i'm way up high 
all skittery and jittery  
dancing on a rope 
with no net I can see.

some days... 
i just want to get away. 
some times... 
i just want to get with. 
but mostly... 
i just want to get away with. 
i'm cracking up, 
but i'm not broken. 
i'm afraid, 
but i'm not really scared. 
i've been nothin' but sick, 
sick and tired.

i love it, 
that you're looking 
that you're looking for me, 
but please know 
i can't make it easy, 
i can't let it show, 
how much i love you 
and want you to just let go. 
why should it be 
you finding me 
before i finally see 
the real Me? 

So there you have it in a nutshell, "i love it...that you're looking for me, but please know, i can't make it easy, i can't let it show...why should it be you finding me before I finally see the real me?"  Well said, girl.