Expanding girths and receding hairlines aside, age has a way of doing wonders of the questionable sort to one’s memory. And those wonders never seem to cease as to what levels a lot of us will stoop to give our tales of growing up a positive spin.
“When I was a child I thought like a child” is a famous line from the Bible. However, it appears that I am a man and I think like someone with highly selective memory loss bordering on Alzheimer’s. At this stage, rather unsavory episodes in my past have been glossed over, mercilessly yanked out or out rightly remixed to give them the halo effect.
Or how else does one describe it when in the midst of close friends who for the right price and the lack of conscience you could (or is it would now?) expose a tabloid worthy spiel or two from the annals of their youth. But who now for some alien reason I can only attribute to age want to come off as pristine squeaky clean models of perfection like they never did a messy No. 2 or got into trouble growing up.
Aren’t these the same people now who only some (the use of ‘some’ here is relative) years back could only be described as the personification of “vice” and suddenly now want to portray themselves as paragons of virtue and what’s right.
Agreed new leaves can be turned and in most cases, (not in all)age brings some level of maturity with it. But when we want to judge kids from the standpoint of where we are now as opposed to where we were at their age, unfair couldn’t be a better word for it. But what do we see? Endless laments of how children nowadays are so ‘one kind’ and how it was different in our time, elaborate bashing sprees of the ones coming at our heels, picking holes in their fashion, their use of slang, their obsession with social media, their fascination with the opposite sex and going as far as wanting to pass off our less than saintly histories as standard primers of how children of nowadays should live and should be raised. It’s like our parents again only worse. It’s us.
Wasn’t it only some time back we too were the children of nowadays. Isn’t it only some time back we were the ones being complained about? For the internet we complain that they spend all their time on, we had cable television we couldn’t keep our eyes off. For the smartphones they can’t seem to get off we had the landlines we used to man from dusk till dawn running our parents bills to the max. We skipped classes all in the name of ‘stabbing’ just to loiter away on school corridors, one eye out for the teachers that happened to pass at that time. For a lot of us the back of school was the initiation point of all our excesses we still carry on till this day.
The drinking, the smoking, the infatuation with the naked female form brought to us courtesy the Playboys of this world. Do we also want to discount the petty crimes committed all in the name of ‘hitting’: hitting being the not so apt euphemism for stealing medium to large amounts of cash from one’s parents usually done with an efficiency that would make the most dyed in wool armed robber flinch. Or is it the twerk for which we had the butterfly and as suggestive goes those two come so close. The hemlines didn’t just start rising today. The style choices didn’t just get ridiculous: going through one’s old pictures for some might qualify as venturing leisurely into the realm of our pasts but for a sizable number of us (that is if the incriminating evidence hasn’t been torched yet) the exercise of looking at old snaps is akin to taking a walk through cringeville. The vices we have today didn’t just spring up. A lot of them started out in teenage life and yet we want to come off as holier than thou.
It is agreed that we can’t allow the younger generation go to the dogs, but we also can’t come off as being on a high horse when talking to and about them. No one likes pontificating least of all young people and especially when you are not the Pope. We need to remove the logs in our youth to clear the speck in theirs; and to the best of my knowledge a time machine hasn’t been created yet to handle that.
These soon-to-be adults need our guidance and most importantly our understanding. Our understanding that they are possibly going through the toughest and the most unpredictable phase in their lives what with changes in their bodies, dealing with peer pressure and struggling to belong. If analyzed carefully teenage life can be likened to war. With our degrees, good jobs and all, we (well you – I am a different matter) were the ones who survived. We all know friends who didn’t, due to bad decisions and wrong choices. Our major task isn’t for them not to make mistakes because they will; it is to make sure they bounce back if and when they do. If that means showing more empathy to their cases then so be it
Photo Credit: visualphotos.com
Audu Bey is a card carrying member of the Peter Pan club.