Monday, July 23, 2007

“Sometimes the spell may last past what you can see”

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.

4 comments: said...

As an "Adult" when I tell stories about High School I find myself saying to people "You probably wouldn't have liked me in High School." The way you described your fathers feelings is something that I feel a lot when I am in those conversations. I was still a good clean Mormon, I was just obnoxious. While I used to chalk it up to "Boys will be Boys" - I now understand that really wasn't how it had to be. My baby brother (well he isn't a baby, he will be 26 next week) was a great example of this.

Was your lesson on "Tongues of Angels". I love that talk. After coming out of a very emotional and verbally abusive relationship, and actually spending time with Elder Holland, I have really learned, almost the hard way, that our words can truly change someones life - for better or worse.

Thanks for sharing this.

Ilene said...

I owned a caboodle because my friend gave me one. I was such a boring teenager too. I was sullen though (at least towards my parents). I felt teenage-hood was just a holding pen until I could get to college. I couldn't see any point in being too rebellious or obnoxious. There was no point, it wasn't practical. You and I would have been great high school friends. Even if I tended to be a bit boy-crazy like Mallory (but just in my crush-sense; I always had a behind-the-scenes-crush)

laura said...

The Lesson was on "Tongues of Angels". Very good Thom!

Ilene, you and I would have been great friends in high school. Yeah, I wasn't a perfect kid. I complained about doing dishes a lot. Funny thing is now I'm the one who hates having dirty dishes sitting in the sink.

Saule Cogneur said...

During my sister's senior year of college, she had an 18 year-old roommate. The girl had been forcefully repressed as a teenager, and that year was the first where she could listen to pop music and go to concerts/clubs. She and another girl entered a contest to see N'Sync making a 12'x5' banner proclaiming their eternal love and undying level of worship. They spent almost two months on it.

It seems that when a person leaves high school, he/she finally starts changing into who he/she truly is. The transition appears to be much healthier emotionally when said party is not acting against a strong exterior impetus. I believe the self-imposed restraints slowly dissolve on their own when the time is right.

I was already plenty different in high school. It wasn't until my freshman year of college that I felt the need to exert additional energy to be unlike those who surrounded me as I found them to be a blind and obnoxious sort.

Maybe part of adulthood is realizing our resemblance to the rest of the world is irrelevant. The place is too exciting, and life is too short to be concerned about anything but what makes us (and secondly, the people who matter) happy.