Tuesday, 19 June 2007

+-17-year-olds: seeing the Virgin Mary or varying the meta soil?

Okay, that’s a clumsy heading, but as the mother of a fiercely questing 16-year-old, I have to ask: WHERE ARE FRANCESCA’S PARENTS?

Juno has said that she will not say a single word, but I will.

I am having a field day with my darling teenage daughter (16), who envisages a life not entirely connected with reality. She may not be seeing visions (I do not, for instance, have images of the Virgin Mary plastered all over my home for her to draw inspiration from) but her take on what is actual is very clearly in no way shaking hands with the world as we know it.

My teenage daughter’s understanding of reality is that somewhere, out there, there are hordes of teenage children – exactly her age – living a life of illicit hedonism, being awfully skinny, going to parties, flying Executive Class, wearing heavy eyeliner and belts for skirts, snorting coke off toilet seats, having Brad Pitts fall in love with them and having mad wild sex to violin music and fireworks… and I am stopping her joining them. (And thanks be to bloody ‘women’s magazines’ for that. When will THEY start taking responsibility for the satan’s spawn they’ve nurtured?)

I have not, however, allowed my daughter to indulge her whims. She is awash with hormones, confused by her powerlessness (how irksome, after all, to be practically a grownup and yet still under someone else’s rule), bored by school, best by confidence issues, annoyed by … just the ordinariness of it all.

My job, AS HER PARENT, is to tell her that life is largely, well, ordinary. And making it less ordinary doesn’t mean being faking phantasm. Rather, it involves finding real answers to real questions: and none of these come easy. Real life isn’t necessarily joyless, but it’s pretty bloody hard.

Francesca’s parents need to find her a good dermatologist (my 17-year-old son suffers from acne, too, and it does nothing for his self-esteem; yet he hasn’t found god in a biscuit, and the skin medication is helping), find out what’s happening with her at school, enquire about her recent involvement with perhaps questionable and maybe apparently trusted adults (um… the Catholic Church has a lot to answer for), and get her flying right. Because, clearly, something is deeply wrong.

Here we have a 17-year-old, overcome by her interior delusions (which, believe me, all teenagers have, to a greater or lesser extent, and fed by their psyches and circumstances), and instead of being helped back to some sort of reality, actually ENCOURAGED by those around her who should know better.

I wonder what Jesus (or, for that matter, the Virgin Mary) would say about Francesca exhorting people to stare into the sun? I know if my daughter proposed this, I would confiscate her cellphone and ground her for a week; and probably employ the services of a super-sharp teenage-savvy psychologist. (And any adults who actually did her bidding – well, I would have to slap them soundly around the chops.)

What, after all, is Francesca going to do once all the fuss has died down and (if we were in America) her family have settled the lawsuits for lost vision?

She is only 17. She is still in her parents’ charge. Whey aren’t they looking after her better?

As Angel comments, re poor old Christianity taking another blow: ‘We’re not all fanatics, eh!’ I don’t think Francesca is, because she hasn’t yet had the experience to become a fanatic. But her parents…?

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1 comment:

angel said...

where indeed... my 16 year old gives me grey hair (which i skilfully hide with the help of my hair dresser) but i do my best to keep him in the pretty much straight and kida narrow...