Thursday, August 11, 2011

Afternoon with a Teenager

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a neighbor’s 17-year old niece from England. I offered to take Julie for lunch and shopping, as her uncle was going to be tied up at work for the day.

This wouldn’t be an unusual event for most of my friends. But, remember, I have no children of my own. I have a niece and nephews that are spread across the country and I don’t get to see them often. I don’t have much recent experience relating to teenagers. Nonetheless, I looked forward to our outing.

I think we had a good time (I know I did). Perhaps I learned a few things about contemporary teenagers – or did I merely recall some things about being 17?

TARGET: Target turned out to be Julie’s “favorite store in the States!” We enjoyed browsing among the sale racks, and she purchased some lip gloss.

HOODIES: Julie shared that she is not a frilly kind of girl and that her closet is full of hoodies. Didn’t we all have some sort of favorite clothing as kids? (I remember an addiction to frayed jeans and flannel shirts.)

SKULLS: When I admitted that I don’t get this whole skulls-in-fashion trend, Julie found it pretty amusing. But she couldn’t really explain it either. She thinks it’s kind of cool, and would buy something with a skull design, except she was pretty sure her parents wouldn’t approve. Good call.

DRIVING: You can get a permit to drive at 17 in England. Julie’s learning, but for now gets to school and visits friends on a motor scooter. (I would have killed for a scooter when I was her age.) She’s a little nervous about making the transition to a car.

LUNCH: Julie ordered Chicken Fried Chicken with white gravy, and a Chocolate Milkshake. I was so envious. Remember when you could order anything you wanted to eat?

THE FUTURE: I was stricken by Julie’s mature look toward her upcoming university education and future employment opportunities. She knows she wants to study Child Development, but is leaving the door open to exactly where her interests will lead her from the many options she hopes to have.

It’s good to spend some time with people that give us a different perspective. Julie is a lovely young lady and a credit to her family. She gave me a gift by sharing the afternoon with me.  On one hand, she made me feel decidedly 55...but I also clearly remembered being 17.  Both are cool with me.

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