My Husband and I graduated from Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Indiana. I graduated in 1999 and my husband graduated in 1998, so we have some significant reunions coming up. The kind of reunions that have given us enough time to change, reflect, and have enough space to see lots of change in our friends as well: 20 year’s worth. We grew up in the same small town and our two classes were very close, so there are lots of couples and families that came out of these to age groups.
My husband and I try to go back often too as our families and parents are still there. Often, when we come into town we are hit with a wave of nostalgia. Sean (my husband) was a star Basketball player, and I was quite active in school as well. We start to remember us dating in school, or a story about our friend groups having close calls, and of course “I don’t know how we survived that year” conversations. “I remember we t-p’d that house on homecoming, oh my gosh so and so had the worst fight there and broke up, or we made some really poor choices that weekend.”
From the Past to the Future
Those conversations have always been fun to have, but in the last year, they have taken on a different meaning for me. I have a seventeen-year-old boy and a fourteen-year-old girl. We are now, to my amazement, in the stage where they are making these stories on their own. The teenage years for both kids are where they are developing confidence and social boundaries. Maybe they have made mistakes they never want to make again, and they have approached sex, drugs, deep conversation, and trying to build their identity. They try, even though that will change fifteen times, even into adulthood, like it has for me. All they know is right now! What someone’s opinion of them right now feels like the eternal truth. They likely will never see that person again after graduation.
How Technology Helps…and Hinders
Technology allows us to keep track of our kids in a way our parents never had and their parents never dreamed of. We have an app called Life 360, it shows me where everyone is, when they come and go a within a mile of our home, and whenever they meet a final destination. For my son who drives, it shows me how many times he was on the phone, hard brakes, speeds, and if he has a collision.
Our parents had a curfew and the grapevine around town. I remember one time I wasn’t supposed to go to the 4th of July Fair with my friend and my mom was out. I thought, “how is she going to know anyway,” so we went anyway. By the time I got home to my friend’s house where I was staying the night, the phone was ringing again and again. Remember, this is not a cell phone, but the landline on the wall. Some other mother had seen me at the fair and told mom before I could even get home!
Each generation relies on what they have, but is being a helicopter mom stealing some of the coming-of-age stories for our kids? If they know we are watching all the time will they take risks? Some of those situations I was in as a teenager helped me to know exactly what I didn’t want for my life and how I didn’t want to be in that situation again. I would love to spare my kids of those, but aren’t they important? Where would I be if I was in a box and knew someone watched my every move?
I think this is a huge confidence builder for them, and I want them to know themselves so they don’t allow peer groups or social pressure to control them. Don’t get me wrong, I am a nervous wreck when my kidsare out past 10pm. But, I also recognize a fine line between giving some slack for them to explore and love their lives and rebelling to a point of no return. It’s a tightrope act and my heart goes out to every parent trying to find that balance.