Sunday, 8 March 2009

Teen Spirit

Last night the Paramour and I threw a dinner party for 10. Sounds impressive, but in reality there are two families of four and us, and we meet up every couple of months for food, wine and chat at each other's houses. It's laid-back, great fun, and one of the best bits is the children.

I should probably describe them as young adults. One couple has two girls, the other a boy and a girl. Across the families, one girl and one boy are 16 going on 17, and the other two girls are 14 going on 15. They've grown up together so they know each other well. Two of the girls have boyfriends, and the boy has a girlfriend. Every time we have one of these get-togethers, I think surely this time one of the kids will decide to do something different. But they don't: they choose to spend their Saturday night with their parents and their parents' friends. They don't slide off to do their own thing, either, although they could if they wanted to. We sit round the table in the kitchen, and in the living rooms there are computers, musical instruments (the boy and one of the girls are particularly musical, and the other two aren't bad), TV, books, all sorts of things they could use to amuse themselves, and they know they are free to do so. But they hang out with us, and chat, and make jokes, and laugh, and are terrific company.

I worked with troubled teenagers for several years in the 1980s, and I know they can exist in perfectly healthy families (as well as the other kind of course). According to the press - and, therefore, much public opinion - almost every teenager is a troubled teenager. But our four are delightful. They're great company: intelligent, funny, thoughtful, caring. And I suspect it is these youngsters, not the ones in the newspapers, who represent the majority.

8 comments:

KAREN said...

Sounds wonderful - I'm rather envious!

HelenMHunt said...

I hope you're right. I've also worked with troubled teens and found it heartbreaking. But equally there are some lovely youngsters out there.

Maddie Moon said...

I love the company of teenagers, you can learn so much from them!

Queenie said...

Karen, it is.
Helen, there are.
Maddie, me too!

JJ Beattie said...

I've just got back from a weekend away with my two teens. I know I'm their Mum and probably biased, but I think they're just great.

PI said...

It's a great compliment to you and the Paramour that they value a civilised dinner party with adults. I'm always thrilled when the teen- age grandchildren seem to enjoy relaxing and wining and dining with us and the fact that they find us slightly outrageous at times makes for more merriment. The parents must love you.

Queenie said...

JJ: I bet they are, especially if they take after you.
PI: I guess it is a compliment to us, I hadn't thought of that. The parents do love us and it's reciprocated, they're good old friends, the best kind.

Clare Sudders said...

I'm jealous too! And I, like most parents, have a very rosy view of what it'll be like when mine turn into adolescents - because my children are lovely and could never be horrible ever... but of course the reality tends to be mixed. Adolescence brings a varied amount of heartache for all concerned and I doubt any family gets off scot free. Then again I doubt either that it is ever unremitting hell with no bright spots at all. Still, although you are of course right that troubled teens can come from all backgrounds, I do suspect your sample demographic might be slightly skewed, in that as with all social problems, deprived groups come off worse than most.