Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Teenage cliché

It's an old cliché that teenagers are wild and reckless and thoroughly irrespons-ible, endlessly getting paralytically drunk, popping dangerous drugs, driving like lunatics and addicted to sex.

Well, I'm sure that was never true for more than a small number of teenagers, while the rest are no more reckless than anyone else, or actually quite restrained and responsible.

I have to admit the popular cliché never applied to me, as I was never particularly unruly or impetuous. I first got drunk when I was 22, I've always avoided dangerous drugs, I'm a habitually cautious driver and I've never been sex-mad.

This wasn't entirely a matter of personal inclination. For five years I was at boarding school, where there wasn't much choice about being well-behaved. We had no access to drink, drugs or cars and any unruly behaviour would have been jumped on pretty quickly. We were expected to be models of propriety at all times, nothing like all those stroppy teenage tearaways we heard about.

While other teenagers were rebelling left right and centre, I was quietly studying for exams, reading set books, playing cricket and learning French. The only drink I ever saw was orange juice and the only drug I ever took was aspirin.

To some extent I caught up after I left school and got immersed in the alternative culture of the sixties. For a few years I could even have been described as mildly rebellious. But it didn't take me long to settle down and become, if not a model of propriety, something close to it.

I don't regret missing out on teenage wildness, though. It might have been fun, but it might have ended in tragedy. One drink too many, one drug too many, and I might have come to a sticky end.

20 comments:

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

I was a nogoodnick, pun not intended, during my teens Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, After I grew up and settled down, elders in the family wondered how I metamorphosed into what I became!

Mike said...

I didn't have the resources to be "wild and reckless and thoroughly irresponsible," but, then, I didn't have any inclination to be like that anyway. The first time I got drunk was when I was at home about age 16, cheap Chianti wine served by mom and step-dad, as well as a fair number of times before I was 21. (For a time, drinking age was dropped in many parts of the US to 18.)

Joanne Noragon said...

When I was raising my daughters, I thought my expectations were the driving force behind good grades and decent behavior. Many of their friends were OK, many others in school were not. This was back in the seventies and eighties. Now that I am responsible for a grandchild who is up to tenth grade, I can say today's kids are way more serious than my daughters' generation or my own. They want to learn and do well and do good for the world. Give back. It's a pleasure to see.

nick said...

Ramana: If you were a really wild teenager, yes, your family must have been amazed at your transformation into someone more respectable!

Mike: Well, it seems you got drunk more often than I did! So you blame it on your parents, lol.

nick said...

Joanne: I think youngsters here are a lot more responsible too. Mainly because life is getting so tough for them, without all the benefits my generation enjoyed. Also, they now have to pay tuition fees so they want to make sure they get something back for all that outlay.

John Gray said...

I'm like you nick I was born old and the older I get the more immature I become

Polly said...

My father was very strict so I was a very good girl. However following on from your previous post my parents didn’t know about the evenings spent at a friends house listening to Rolling Stones records and smoking mild joints. They didn’t know about the times myself and a couple of friends would hitch a ride from our home town of Peterborough to dances at the American airbase at Alconbury. And they didn’t know about the snogging in the cinema. But apart from that and maybe a few other minor indiscretions I was a good girl.I was never wild and reckless though. Sometimes I wish I had been.

tammy j said...

hazing at universities with accidental deaths are getting fairly frequent here. well every few years or so I guess. but if it's your own child it's one too many I'm sure.
I was an old married lady of 19 when I had my first drink. and the drinking age here was 21. so it was most definitely at home! I didn't like it! I definitely just got lucky marrying so well that young. because I knew nothing about life. no regrets though. I love JG's comment!

nick said...

John: I don't know about being born old. I just didn't get much opportunity to let my hair down.

Polly: It may not have been wild and reckless, but you certainly pulled the wool over your parents' eyes and had a bit of fun on the quiet!

nick said...

Tammy: I don't hear much about hazing here, but certainly deaths caused by drunken youngsters are far too common. They don't seem to realise how much their driving ability is affected by alcohol. And they leave so much grief behind them.

CheerfulMonk said...

I was a serious teenager in high school --- I was saving money for college and figuring out my philosophy of life. In college I drank socially even though it was officially illegal. The partying I did was more sophisticated than wild and was good for me --- a lot of trips to San Francisco to restaurants and plays, etc., and I went to Stanford in Germany two quarters my Junior year. As a physics major, of course, I had to do a lot of studying. I didn't get much sleep, but I kept my grades up and on the whole had a great experience.

nick said...

Jean: Figuring out your philosophy of life sounds good. I bet not many teenagers have got that far. I don't think I encountered a "sophisticated" party until many years later. The teenage parties I went to were generally just drunken shouting matches!

Wisewebwoman said...

My late teenage years were gobbled up with folk-singing and theatre performances and in between I let my hair down but I think that all kept me pretty stable as performing too precedence over everything else. I travelled a bit too and had the ability to hop over to London on many weekends, for a girl from Cork that was just amazing to see the beginning of so much great music and fashion which freed us girls from conformity (hello mini-skirts and no girdles!).

My memories are delicious and I often savour them, ganging around Europe in 3rd or 4th class carriages on trains, smoking Gauloises and drinking chianti and singing. Lawdie. I'm so absolutely thrilled my granddaughter is having similar experiences.

XO
WWW

nick said...

www: That all sounds good to me! London must have been quite an eye-opener for a young girl from Cork. But how disappointing that women gave up girdles and corsets but have now been lured back into the cleverly renamed "shapewear".

Bijoux said...

I was a serious student during the week and partied on the weekend. I've always been good at balancing acts, LOL.

nick said...

Bijoux: An excellent arrangement! Too many students here want to party right through the week as well....

Secret Agent Woman said...

The thing about teens is that there brains go through a massive reorganization in adolescence, and they are not neurologically full re-connected for many years. Early twenties or thereabouts. During that re-organization, they are impulsive, emotional, have difficulty seeing consequences, and self-centered. More than younger children, on average, and more than adults. You might find this interesting:
https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124119468

nick said...

Agent: I didn't know any of that. Intriguing. I think some of those characteristics would have applied to my own adolescence. The link was interesting. Just one question - does that syndrome affect girls and boys in the same way? Presumably it does?

Secret Agent Woman said...

Yes, boys and girls, although girls' brains hit full maturity earlier than boys.

nick said...

Agent: Is it their brains maturing earlier or is it just that girls learn to apply themselves more than boys?