Growing Pains and Growing Up

Sarah Jenson, Staff Writer

The great paradox of being in high school is that everyone around you, teachers,

parents, coaches, expects you to act like an adult without giving you any of the freedom

associated with becoming an adult. We all remember our first day of sophomore year

with half of the teachers saying that high school wasn’t like middle school, you’d have

real responsibilities, and you’d be treated like an adult here. The other half, however,

still expected you to only go to the bathroom twice a quarter and raise your hand to

sharpen a pencil.

It gets even more complicated at home. Your parents nag you about how you’re

old enough to make decisions for yourself, but before you walk out the door to go to a

party, there’s a full-scale investigation. You’re expected to get a job and pay for

everything yourself, but heaven forbid you get home ten minutes late for curfew. You

buy and pay for your own phone, but your parents still take it away if they think you’re

talking back.

It’s not that having a book of rules is inappropriate for parents to have and

enforce, but it gets harder to comply with another adult’s set of standards when you’re

becoming an adult yourself. Whether it’s a parent or not, once adult behaviors begin to

be expected, the desire to be treated like an adult becomes more of a necessity.

To be fair, teenagers normally get a bit more freedom as they get closer to

graduation. The little taste of freedom is almost more torturous, though, than a pure

authoritarian dictatorship with no freedoms at all. Curfews are extended a half hour, but

we really need it to be an hour longer. We get to have a phone, but we would appreciate

it if it didn’t shut off at ten. We can finally join whatever clubs we want, but it comes with

the price of hearing your parents constantly bemoan your poor time management.

Parents wonder why teenagers are so hard to handle – why their precious little

preteens no longer take their spoon full of medicine without complaining. Though they

might be right that teenagers are not able to handle every adult responsibility, a

seventeen-year-old can certainly handle more than an eleven-year-old. A sixth grader

surely shouldn’t be trusted with driving a car or with going hiking without adult

supervision. They could get lost or hurt, and would most likely be more of a danger to

themselves than anything. A high-schooler, on the other hand, is generally responsible

and careful enough to go traversing around Salt Lake City with a few friends, or to drive

a few hours for a day trip to Midway.

The problem can be expounded when you’re either the youngest or the oldest.

Some parents, moms in particular, struggle letting their first and last go. Others are

stricter with all their kids, or get progressively less strict the more kids they have. Sure,

that’s sweet and sentimental, but it can be incredibly frustrating for the party stuck in the

debacle of wanting to respect your parents and needing some freedom.

Is there a good answer? Absolutely not.  We crave and dream about

independence until we finally get it, and then we come home every weekend to have

our mom cook us dinner and do laundry. Apparently growing pains are just a part of

growing up.