Friday, September 19, 2008

Growing up

One thing the Web is piss-poor at, in my opinion, is envisioning the future. It's become quite like TV in this respect. It works well at connecting people with the things they already know, and it's not quite so good at connecting them with new things, things that they didn't expect.

My example: The boy-child living in my house.

Now, Wil has this Web address, as does his father, and so I mean it in quite practical terms that I mean no disrespect. In fact, the opposite of disrespect: I respect the fact that Wil's life is not like that of similarly-aged people of previous generations. Or perhaps better described, similarly-aged people of the same "class" of previous generations.

I'm sure there were young people of very wealthy parents as far back as... forever... that had trouble figuring out how to motivate their children. And what I'm learning from obvserving Wil is that the children likely were not oblivious to this problem. In fact, when I think back to my own teenage years, I was not oblivious to this problem. People around me seemed to have ambitions. I was not at all clear on how to get some of my own. Wealthy parents' children must always be a problem, obviously, because it's hard to argue that they can't be supported. But the other thing that many of you will have already experienced (yourself and/or in raising your own) is that it is difficult for ANY child in this day and age (and society) to really BELIEVE that they can't be supported indefinitely. I mean, they've been supported THEIR WHOLE LIVES. How can anything else make sense?

So here we are. A few years ago, Wil said he wanted to get a job, instead of bowling. So he quit bowling.

Recently, I had occasion to ask him why he wanted to learn to drive. He answered that he wanted to learn to drive because he knew that it was something he was going to need to know.

And that's so freakin' significant! Something he knew he would need... versus something he DOES need, let alone something he WANTS.

Motivation is such a BEAR, isn't it? Because really, how do you do ANYTHING that you don't WANT to do in some small place in your brain?

So I'm left pondering... why would this young man, all of 18 years old, want to learn to drive, find a job, save money, move out, make his own meals, make his own plans, live his own life? I mean... it all goes contrary to how his life has ALWAYS BEEN, and it goes contrary to what he's being given RIGHT NOW. When you boil it all down, it'd be kinda reasonable to think him an idiot if he wanted to do those things. I mean, WHAT FOR?

We come back to the Internet because, before the question about driving, I did a little poking around for advice on how to teach driving. And most of the driving-teaching advice pointed to the "fact" that a teenager thinks only about what they want to do with the car, all the freedom they'll obtain, and the problem of teaching them is in bringing them down to the actual details and responsibilities of driving. I couldn't find one bit of advice for trying to help a young potential driver who doesn't want to drive, who isn't all that interested, and who is so aware of the potential threats that he's afraid of getting into the car.

I didn't learn to drive, when I was a teenager, because it didn't make any SENSE. It was scary AND it was useless. We didn't HAVE a car, and I could get everywhere by transit and walking. Later, I added biking.

But I wanted money. Oh boy. I was, still, delayed by my father being quite generous in supporting me as a teenager --I got to shop for my own clothes, on a bit of a budget, and travel and do things that I wanted to do. But I wanted MY OWN money, and I'm not sure how I got that urge, but I did. So I got a job.

So what do you do when an eighteen-year-old hasn't got really expensive interests, gets a ton of money from distant relatives at Christmasses and birthdays, and gets a meager allowance as well? WHY, IF HE HAD ANY BRAINS AT ALL, WOULD HE WANT A JOB?

Pffffffffft. He wouldn't. It would be unreasonable for him to want one. Wil's a smart young man and he knows he will need a job. But flat-out, that's not the same thing as wanting one.

I have an idea. But I don't think there's a chance in hell his Dad would go for it.

Still... the whole thing is perplexing, is all. I mean, I'm trying to get motivated to write a screenplay, work out, go to a doctor to get my feet fixed, learn a language, and work harder at my job. And I really, really, REALLY know that knowing these things "need to be done" is quite different...

...from wanting to do them.

P.S. In reviewing this, I see I am the same old bekbek after all. I remember saying, as a young teenager, that I didn't want to learn a language. I wanted to HAVE LEARNED it. Now, at 41 years old in a few days... I want to HAVE DONE all these things, or have them at that lovely point where it is all fun in tweaking and finishing up and celebrating accomplishment. Getting from here to there? Pffft. See you in another 30 years...

1 comment:

Cathy said...

When my daughter was about 15 I told her that for her 18th birthday she was going to get a beautiful set of luggage and that she ought to figure out before that time where she'd like to go.

Now she's 38 years old, lives in New York (lower east side), travels every chance she gets, and is a good friend. I like her.

I had two step-kids after my daughter was grown and gone. It was much much much harder trying to get the boy-child out of the house. He just couldn't figure out what to do with himself. And it took him some years to find his path. But now, at 32, he's a massage therapist and still interested in learning more.

It's hard. But some baby birds just have to be shoved. They survive.