Sunday, 11 December 2011

When children grow rebellious...

Time goes by, entourages change. Gone is the period of formal education when every day I used to meet my peers who look at the world from roughly the same perspective as I do. People I am surrounded by these days, at least a few years older than me, have different problems, grew up in different times, spend their leisure time differently. What we usually have in common is a certain part of our background – we are almost all graduates of Warsaw School of Economics. And despite this we are all “normal”, I mean we do not fit the image of a stereotypical rat-racer. This is what probably marks the boundary between slightly “backward” Polish commercial banking and Anglo-Saxon overgrown financial sector which favours alpha-males with specific set of traits and predispositions

All (except one, single girl aged 28) my colleagues have spouses and most have children. Their offspring are usually in pre-school or early-school age, only one colleague’s children are in their teenage years. He sometimes talks over his observations of his daughter (aged 16) and son (aged 14) with a woman from the other department whose son is also adolescent. While listening to their conversations, I finally realised what sort of problems I will have to tackle in several years, when my currently unborn children grow to the age of defiance. From what I observed, my colleagues strike a good balance between strictness and leniency in upbringing their children. They are aware it is natural that teenagers begin to have their own opinions, often totally opposite, as a matter of principle, to their parents’ views, want to dress the way they want, spend the time the way they want, meet with who they want and arrange their lives in their own way. They talk a lot to their children and forgive some misbehaviours (one-off occurrences of returning home inebriated or nasty behaviour at schools).

I sometimes butt in to their talks and present them my point of view, but more often they make me look back on over past ten years, from the moment I came into age of adolescence, until my 24th birthday. Much can be said about me, but I was anyone, but a problem child / problem teenager. For some reason, maybe because my parents would talk with me a lot, I did not have inclination stir up troubles. I always did good at school; in good and bad times, for 12 years of primary, middle and high school I passed with flying colours. I did not have to retake a single exam during four and a half years of my studies and unlike fellow students I finished my studies in time. There were some incidences of inappropriate behaviour at school, but they have never been really inexcusable and never sullied my good reputation. There were some disputes between my parents and I, there was a time when I was 16 and in a relationship with two years older girl, when we argued a lot. They told me she was not good for me, after a few months time and my ex-girlfriend proved them right. I have never experimented with drugs, never had a cigarette in my mouth (I owe it to my parents, until November 2003 chain smokers, whose addiction filled me with abiding disgust for smoking), I would hit the bottle from time to time, I used to come back home tipsy, yet in my lifetime I have not got hammered more than five times and never I had I drunk so much that I could not remember what I had been doing; I have never let the alcohol turn my stomach. Plus I was a “frugal” child – I did not need private tuition (korepetycje), I did not demand from my parents that they bought me some stuff others had.

Yet my colleagues, who patiently put up with their children, point out it is better if teenagers get through a period a defiance before they grow adult, because this has to come sooner or later, and the later it comes, the higher the magnitude of cheekiness is and the more severe outcomes of stupid decisions might be. I suppose the belated adolescence crisis has hit me recently. I am putting it down to changes that have taken place over the last year around me. The transition from school-oriented to work-oriented life, drifting apart with my schoolmates and hitting it off with older, more mature people, gaining the long-awaited financial independence; all these factors have been a source of joy and excitement, but to some extent they turned my life upside down, I am not a man I used to be a year ago. To put if briefly – I sometimes feel as if I was living someone else’s life… Some changes are positive – at work I can spread my wings. I left behind the unpleasant experience of being one of hundreds of anonymous students, which used to hurt during the years spent at SGH. I realise this might be an illusion, but where I work at least I am recognised and my accomplishments are appreciated (one day someone might recall my name and put it on a redundancy list – would it pay off not to stand out and keep a low profile?). Some changes, i.e. aforementioned tangle in my head, are a bit disturbing. When making up for the time wasted on being an obedient child, I hold off on taking stupid, emotion-rather-than-consideration-driven decision and wait. I believe by the 25th birthday it should pass…

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