September 29th, 2010 at 10:00 am
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What’s wrong with that kid?

by Devlyn Brooks

“That kid must have been up all night,” my mother muttered over breakfast this morning. “I got up to go to the bathroom and shut off his bedroom light about 4 a.m.”

The tone of judgement in her voice was palpable. My mother was expressing her disagreement with my nephew’s lifestyle yet again. Since he moved in with us a year ago to attend college, his late nights and days spent sleeping have just confounded my mother. She just doesn’t understand why he can’t “live like a normal person.”

I’ve spent a good many hours explaining to my mother that my nephew IS a normal 19-year-old. I’ve explained that they stay up late, stay out with their friends ’til all hours of the morning, and if they don’t have class or work they will sleep all day. That’s what college students do.

“But it’s not normal,” my mother pleads. “What kind of person sleeps the day away?”

College was not in the cards for my mother. Born into a family of modest means and then pregnant as a teenager, there was no opportunity for her obtain a college degree. Regardless, in the early 1950s it wasn’t expected of women to attend college. So she stayed home to take care of kids and later worked out of the home to raise the last of us kids by herself. One by one we each left the nest, some of us to college, most to begin their own adult lives. And we all left town to do so. She never experienced what it was to be an older teenager with few responsibilities and she never witnessed it with any of us kids. And so it’s understandable that she doesn’t get my nephew’s lifestyle. Despite my best efforts to explain that he is just being 19, she won’t accept that’s what “normal” kids do.

In fact, I’ve even explained that things could be much worse. By his age, most college kids are into far more risky behavior. This kid…heck, he doesn’t drink and he spends about three days per week attending church or leading Bible study groups on campus. And that’s not a wink and nod attitude. This kid truly isn’t engaged in the party life. He grew up with alcoholic parents and that pain led to him swearing off that lifestyle long ago. His freshman year is puritan compared to my freshman year. If staying out late and sleeping in are the worst of the troubles I have to worry about while he lives with me, I’ll count my lucky stars.

But that’s not swaying my mother. I don’t believe that I’ll ever convince her that the country isn’t going to hell in a hand basket if Generation Y takes over.

“At least I’ll be dead and gone before that day,” she says. “Good luck to you.”

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