Take, for example, my awareness of the perils of pride.
I know pride is one of the seven deadly sins, and I grew up hearing the phrase “Pride goeth before a fall.”
But that knowledge didn’t prevent me from taking pride in my belief that, because I remember being an adolescent, I understand adolescence. After all, circumstances and access to information may change, but people and feelings don’t.
At least, that’s what I tell myself.
There may be a grain of truth in those thoughts, but those grains don’t feed the masses. They also don’t take into account genetics,which often distort perspective.
And because my children share my genes, neither of them gets wrapped up in the drama of their peers.
My son seems maintains a complete air of oblivion and chooses to mask himself in his sense of humor and comic attitude.
My daughter denies being anything like me, but she loves musicals, listens to theater music more than popular music, requires hours for reading each day and labels herself as a book worm.
In reality, she’s much smarter than I am.
She, for example, remembered to actually take her phone with her to dinner in Times Square in New York City last Friday night.
I, on the other hand, left my phone on its charger in our hotel room. I realized this as we were getting on the subway but commented to my daughter, her best friend and her best friend’s mother, “All three of you have phones. What are the odds I’ll be separated from all of you?”
Apparently, the odds were not in my favor.
Upon arriving in Times Square (the girls’ choice not their mothers’), we took a leisurely stroll before spending a couple of hours in a restaurant that offered both entertainment and food.
My next mistake was to suggest we leave.
As soon as we opened the doors and stepped out on the street, I knew something was wrong.
My first clue was the ear-shattering screams coming from across the street.
My next clue was the ear-shattering scream right next to me along with the words “It’s Magcon boys!!!!”
Up to that point, my only exposure to the Magcon boys was through my daughter’s best friend (the one who was with us.) Her mother and I had spent hours trying to understand whom these boys are and why they are famous.
From what I understand, the boys post six-second videos, photos and amusing comments on social networking sites. They aren’t actors. They aren’t (real) musicians. And they aren’t (real) comedians.
They are simply boys who post on the internet.
I so don’t get that.
In other words, I really don’t understand adolescence these days.
Because of that, I didn’t expect my daughter’s best friend to start chasing after them in Times Square with a mob of other screaming teenage girls. Nor did I anticipate that her mother then my daughter would chase after her, while I, in high heels and no phone, would watch them go.
And I had no chance of finding them.
Times Square on a summer night is wall to wall people.
All I could do was shrug my shoulders and say “Magcon boys” when other people asked what all the excitement was about. I would see their looks of confusion and feel a brief sense of peace in the fact that I wasn’t entirely alone in my lack of understanding.
I was simply without a phone in Times Square while my daughter chased her best friend’s mother who was chasing her daughter who was among a pack of adolescent girls chasing boys that post in the internet.
I didn’t get it. I also didn’t know whether I would stay where I was (as taught as a child) or simply head back to the hotel room.
Just as I had decided to go back to the hotel room, I heard ear-splitting screams coming back toward me.
A couple of teenage boys followed by screaming and crying teenage girls followed by a few angry parents were coming my way.
Then I saw my daughter and grabbed her.
I don’t know if I was more grateful that I had found her or that she said to me “this is the dumbest thing I have ever witnessed.”
We spent a few minutes together laughing as we watched the girls holding their cell phones in high in hopes of getting a photo of a “Magcon” boy. We rolled our eyes at the girls as they banged on the doors of the building where the boys had entered. And we expressed our disbelief at the histrionic girls gasping in tears that they had seen a certain boy. My daughter even tried to capture the chaos on her cell phone.
As we bonded over our genetic code of not pining over boys we could never have, two New York City police officers joined us.
Maybe we looked a little too happy. Or maybe we looked a little too sane.
I’ll never be sure.
What I do know is that I apparently stomped out the dreams of thousands of girls when I asked the officers why they were letting such insanity ensue. When they asked me what I meant (apparently most New Yorkers don”t use the word ensue), I told them about the chaos of the girls chasing the boys.
The police officers disappeared telling me they’d “take care of it.”
A few minutes later, my daughter’s friend and her mother appeared with two photos with “the boys.” The drama was over.
I was happy for my daughter’s friend, but I can’s say I understood her obsession. Neither did my daughter.
The incident had left us both completely lost in New York City.
The next day, as I sat next to my daughter watching Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, I witnessed her lip sync every lyric.
That’s when I realized there are many people who will never understand her passion for music or the theater just as people didn’t understand mine at her age.
Perhaps that’s why I also felt so lost as a teenage. Now I realize now that being lost isn’t such a bad thing.
But being lost without trying to gain some perspective and better understand others is.
Thankfully, my children and their friends are providing me with those lessons on a daily basis.