Teenagers, who will ever understand them?

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By Stella A. Estremera

Spider’s web

Saturday, April 27, 2013


FROM out of the blues, I have a full-grown teenage girl left to my care. Not the physical care, she has the lola and uncle and brother complete with allowance from mom to take care of that. It’s the guidance that has been requested of me, and I’m groping my way.

Who can ever understand teenagers, especially if these were the teens who were not raised to be very open with their parents and other companion adults; who’d rather keep to themselves than share what they are doing.

To plumb the depths and widths of a teenager’s mind is like asking a man to figure out how the minds of a million women work. Now make that female teenager, and you can be in big trouble.

I don’t have experience raising kids, I don’t have one. I have the talent of communicating to pets, dogs, cats, whatever, and… I was the most secretive, incomprehensible, mind-bogging teenager ever who lived in her own world deliberate away from the eyes of every concerned adult. Thus, the absence of kids of my own is not a handicap. It’s a case of “been there, done that”, much better than any kid can ever think of doing. And honestly, sometimes, talking to pets can bring better response and understanding than talking to a rebellious teen.

Think, falling into the deep sea with not a single person squealing about what happened – the code of Omerta is stronger among trustworthy kids. Or biking all alone into quiet country roads every Sunday that spanned months on end before panicky mom learned about the lonely travels into parts unknown by her girl-bunsoy. “Eh kung ma-rape ka doon?” I recall her asking; and that was only then when I realized the danger that beforehand never really crossed my mind. But in my world, I have stray animals as companions, how can there be evil in this world? Mingling and interacting with people armed and unarmed in circumstance that would definitely send chills of dread and a lifetime of nightmares to any mom would later become regular fare in my late teens. It was through them that I learned to see life from all possible angles.

To live a life like this, the secret is never ever give mom a hint (to save her from a heart attack). I didn’t, the military did it for me (and risked a greater heart attack; luckily, she has a strong heart).

The point is, left on their own, teenagers can live a whole impenetrable secret life that can bring them to a lot of troubles if they’re not wily enough (I simply got the best guardian angels aver assigned to anyone, who used all their heavenly powers to yank me off big trouble and danger all the time, and so I’m still here, bouncing around, and still needing to be yanked off occasionally). From experience, the constant nagging of moms and elders can make this wall even more impenetrable and thus you find yourself again being a man trying to figure out how the minds of a million women work.

It’s touch and go, really, but we just have to stand firm in our convictions while constantly throwing pieces of wisdom, in the hope that these are picked up, examined, appreciated, and internalized in the deep recesses of a teenager’s secret world. It pays to join them in one (just one) of their shenanigans, too, and laugh out loud with them over this. It’s called trust-building.

*****

From Zen Flesh, Zen Bones on the “10 Bulls”:

3. Perceiving the Bull

I hear the song of the nightingale.
The sun is warm, the wind is mild, willows
are green along the shore,
Here no bull can hide!
What artist can draw that massive head,
those majestic horns?

(Comment: When one hears the voice, one can sense its source. As soon as the six senses merge, the gate is entered. Wherever one enters on sees the head of the bull! This unity is like salt in water, like color in dye-stuff. The slightest thing is not apart from self).

5. Taming the Bull

The whip and rope are necessary,
Else he might stray off down some dusty road.
Being well trained, he becomes naturally gentle.
Then, unfettered, he obeys his master.

(Comment: When one thought arises, another thought follows. When the first thought springs from enlightenment, all subsequent thoughts are true. Through delusion, one makes everything untrue. Delusion is not caused by objectivity; it is the result of subjectivity. Hold the nose-ring tight and do not allow even a doubt).

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 28, 2013.

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