It was my nephew’s 18th birthday on Monday.
There was a big ‘family dinner ‘ to commemorate it, at a nice restaurant near where I live.
I was reflecting on how times have changed, and certainly compared to my own ‘ coming of age’.
For all the talk of kids growing up so fast in this modern world, I don’t think they really have. All around me I see parents helping with kids’ homework, parents being massively involved in the ‘ child’s choice’ of college / university , teenagers being driven/ accompanied in their visits to Uni cities, as well as parents doing an awful lot of worrying when really it’s never been easier for the adolescents to do this stuff for themselves. When the kids find themselves at Uni, all of a sudden and for the first time they have to not only look after themselves but pass their exams all by themselves too.
When I was 18 the only celebration I was aware of was a party that my older brother helped organise in a club in Newport, culminating in me being face down on the pavement, puking in the gutter. It was the first time I was aware of any concern for me from Alwyn, and I recall my being surprised that he was looking out for me at all. South Wales wasn’t renowned for encouraging public displays of affection in any way at all.
I can only recall my father helping me with homework once ( I can even remember specifically the topic – atomic structure in molecules ) It had never occurred to me to ask my parents for help, nor I think had it to them – and they were both teachers….
My choice of career was mine, and I chose and visited universities by myself, by train. I’d never been on a train by myself before or been to London, Manchester or Cardiff even alone before, but I never expected them to be involved, and neither did they offer or show any interest. I’m absolutely not being critical – it’s just how it was.
I remember being followed for miles by a bloke that had stood next to me in a public toilet in a London railway station, but I hadn’t the vaguest idea why he would have been following me, just thought it was strange. He even got on the same train as me … hours later. I wasn’t scared in any way – physically I was tough enough to have dealt with any challenge, it was just odd and that’s all. It certainly never occurred to me that his motive might have been sexual, surely there was actually no such thing as men liking other men?
I remember what I did – I saw this really pretty girl in my train carriage and I went and sat next to her, and said hello, then pointed at the guy tailing me, and the bloke got off the train. I kept in touch by letter with that girl for 3 years, though never saw her again. I didn’t ever tell my parents what had happened – it just wasn’t like that then – well not in our house.
I don’t know how I’ll be with my own girls when it comes to career choice and further education. They definitely want barely any help with homework and never have ( well, not from Dani or I ) despite us being willing. So far they’ve achieved on merit, and at the risk of sounding old fashioned, I think that’s only right. These days kids live with their parents until they’re about 30 and that’s fine with me, as I love my girls. Things have changed – I spent ONE night at my parents after getting my degree and it was clearly uncomfortable for all parties – I wasn’t a kid anymore – I was 20 – and I was not supposed to be there.
Lily wants a party this month and has asked me to get the vodka
The bloody vodka!!
She’s fifteen… We drank at that age, but it definitely wasn’t a collaboration with our parents… More furtive cheap lager on park benches after dark, with being sick and sobering up before going home the only outcome.
There you go, just my musings again – easier reading than me talking about suicide, I hope.