Our lesson in Relief Society yesterday was about the words we speak and how much power they can have. It reminded me of a song from the musical Into the Woods called “Children Will Listen.” I first saw that musical when I was eleven or twelve and I still love it. Steven Sondheim is great.
Anyway, the lesson topic also reminded me of something my dad told me when I was eleven that had a huge impact on the way I lived the remainder of my childhood. He probably wouldn't remember saying it and would laugh at how much thought I applied to his flippant statement.
I was working in the yard with my dad. Our house sits on a corner and every day the junior high school kids would walk past our house on their way to and from school. Dad felt like they threw a bunch of trash in our yard and he hated cleaning up after them. He casually said, “I hate teenagers.” I asked him, “Why?” I don’t remember all his reasons but I do remember him saying, “I didn’t even like myself as a teenager.”
I now realize Dad says things simply to amuse himself and many times just to be contrary, but back then I thought to myself, “Uh oh, I’m going to be a teenager someday and I don’t want Dad to hate me.”
I decided right then and there that I was not going to be a typical teenager. I wasn’t going to do anything that would make my dad think I was anything like those Junior High School kids that made him so angry.
My older brother wasn’t the best example of a typical teenager, so naturally I took my “what not to be” cues from characters on television sitcoms. I was not going to obsess about boys like Mallory Keaton. If Denise Huxtable came home on weekends after curfew I was not going to do that. If DJ Tanner skipped school to get an autograph from Stacey Q I wasn’t going to do that either. I certainly wasn’t going to dress the way she did. I wasn’t going to wear makeup, I wasn’t going to crimp my hair, and I was not going to get my ears pierced.
I was a VERY boring teenager.
I kind of feel like I missed out on a lot of the late 80’s and early 90’s. I can’t sing along to New Kids on the Block. I can’t quote lines from The Breakfast Club and I never owned a Caboodle.
This kind of explains why I didn’t start embracing pop culture and having fun with it until I was in college. And why a lot of my childhood friends thought I was weird.
I didn’t completely dismiss the culture of my childhood. I can sing along to just about every song on Madonna’s “Immaculate Collection.” I’m not ashamed to admit Girls Just Want to Have Fun is in my VHS library. However, I still don’t wear a lot of makeup and my ears remain unpierced.