I recently came to the conclusion that I have become that ridicules old lady whom I used to despise. What makes this even worse, is that I myself am only 31. Which honestly doesn’t even give me the right to call myself old, yet somehow I have allowed myself to develop an attitude of superiority over those approaching adulthood. Upon this stomach-churning realization, I hereby vow to put myself in check!
As a teen/young adult I had a very sever chip on my shoulder. I know, I know, big shocker right? Despite my parents efforts to keep me sheltered and force me to live forever as a child who never grew up or experienced life, I found myself doing the opposite. I was a regular NORMAL young human. I rebelled, I watched rated R movies, smoked cigarettes, snuck alcohol, cussed like a sailor (still do), stayed out all hours of the night, and sadly enough was even sexually active. There was nothing I hated worse than being treated like a kid! After all, I did hang out with an older crowd more often than not, and I just KNEW I was smarter and more mature than 90% of the adults I came in contact with. (looking back now, and at my current behavior, I was actually somewhat right.)
About a week ago I was talking with a small group of family and friends about my adult thriller Aggravated Momentum. My niece (who is quickly approaching 18) jumped in the conversation and voiced her interest in reading it. Now, before I go any further let me just point out that this particular teen is the most insightful mature young lady I have ever met. She keeps her nose clean and a straight head on her shoulders. A real no-nonsense kind of gal. Back to my story: I instantly shut her down, telling her this:
“Aggravated Momentum is no book for kids! It’s naughty, it swears, the characters are narcissistic and twisted. There is no way I want to contribute in corrupting you.”
I strongly stand by the preciousness of maintaining a child’s innocence, so lets not misconstrue my point. Age is merely a number and based on a person’s life and maturity, they’re not always the “children” that we instantly assume. For the first time in my niece’s life I viewed her as an adult, and it wasn’t just her words, it was her entire reaction to my ‘old person’s judgment’. I was humbled. Rather than the defensive-I can do whatever I want – reaction that one would expect, it started with a look. Her eyes filled with sadness. It wasn’t a hurt feelings look either… It was actually pity towards me! The corners of her eyes squinted up tight, and her eyebrows melted to a tilt. She was clearly confused at my closed mindedness. Then, in a super soft saddened voice she said,
“Didi, you wouldn’t believe how awful the kids my age are. The things people do and say in school, let alone out of it, are disgusting. I’ve seen the worst slutty things, people treat each other so bad.” Then she sighed, waited for it all to sink in, and said, “I’m not as innocent and sheltered as you think.”
Of course, this got the entire group talking about how much different life is for kids now days than it was for any of us old and even middle-aged ‘grown-ups’. It wasn’t until later that night and into the next day that the impact of my nieces maturity really hit me. Just because she is 17 doesn’t mean she is not an adult! The reaction of empathy, understanding of life, and demonstration of personal integrity she showed, only told me that she can completely handle an adult novel. My book would not encourage her to act out of character in one little bit, if anything it would give her even more understanding of the evil in our world, and in turn help to give her the tools needed in order to coupe with life’s shitty hands that will inevitably be dealt to her later on.
I have officially taken a few paces back in the walk of life’s humility. Hopefully this short story will encourage others to take a look at the young adults around them with a new understanding on development and respect. Let’s all treat our young loved ones the way they deserve to be treated and not like they are just another kid.