It took travelling to another country where English wasn’t the Mother tongue to open the doors of communication with my teenagers. These are teenagers who seem to physically shudder at the thought of spending time with me, who walk ten steps behind me through the shopping mall, groan every time I ask a simple question, such as ‘do you have homework?’ or ‘are you going to be home for dinner?. Travelling with my teenagers was an opportunity to get to know these growing young people more intimately and discover how much my ‘babies’ had grown before they take their own path into that grand experience called life.
The idea of travelling with teenagers was wrought with emotion, anxiety and excitement. Would I be the referee between arguments between my two children, or between the children’s father and the rugrats? Would I have sulking teenagers who would refuse to talk to strangers or engage with others, or constantly complain of being bored? Would my teenagers be on social media bemoaning how many days they had left to be tortured on a daily basis by their forever annoying parents. We had traveled to Phuket, Thailand, with our two teenagers, eighteen and fifteen years of age.
Don’t take a pill, instead have a strange impulse…
I’m sitting at the kitchen table with a coffee and a book, Lydia Davis’s ‘The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis’. I’d arrived home only ten minutes earlier after doing the school run and I’m basically procrastinating before I start working on the computer. Flicking through the short story collection I pause at the paragraph-long story ‘A Strange Impulse’. A smile creeps onto my face. An ironic smirk actually. The story starts with the narrator looking down from their window and who watches with surprise as shopkeepers cover their ears, and then the narrator observes:
“And why were there people in the street running as if pursued by a terrible specter? Soon everything turned to normal: the incident had been no more than a moment of madness during which the people could not bear the frustration of their lives and had given way to a strange impulse.”
And why did I smirk? While driving my daughter and friend to school on my so-called-day-off, (day off from the real job) we became grid-locked, the kind that brings a city to a breaking halt. We weren’t even travelling into the city, just going from one suburb to the next, but still we were caught up regardless. Sitting at intersections and roundabouts I constantly restrain from shouting at impatient drivers and their constant near misses.