Saturday, January 11, 2014

Spaghetti for Breakfast

This is the third and final  in a series of posts related to essays I wrote originally in Spanish during fall 1997 for a Spanish class. Each essay responded to a particular assignment (e.g. narrative, description, etc.). For the "definition" essay, I chose to define "adolescence," probably because my daughter was 13 at the time. Most of the essay is a simple definition, of little interest or consequence except as an exercise in Spanish vocabulary and verb conjugation. But the essay's first sentences, below, recall certain details my my life with a teenage daughter than now make me smile as I recall the context. I had forgotten these particulars:
When my daughter turned thirteen, she would get hysterical over misplaced homework. She also decided to dye her hair black, and to eat spaghetti with ice cream for breakfast. That's when I knew she was a teenager. 
Later in the essay, I base my definition of adolescence on personal experience as a parent of a teen.
Although young people want to be independent, they must also trust their parents for basic necessities and for emotional support. My daughter likened herself in this internal conflict to a rubber-band that is stretched so far until it either has to snap back or break.
In reality, my articulate child had used that metaphor not as a teenager, but as a nine-year-old when she tried to explain to me how she felt while in France on a school trip, living with a French family for 3 weeks, without her own parents or brother. As a Spanish student, I used some poetic license to ascribe the idea to her teenage brain.

Finally, I concluded my definition of adolescence this way: "Parents have a huge responsibility for assuring that the children can become autonomous, healthy adults. They must realize that the period of adolescence will not last forever." In fact, it disappears all too quickly.

Today, my daughter and her husband are Peace Corps volunteers in Thailand. She is probably eating noodles for breakfast and stretching herself in cultural, linguistic, and emotional ways few of us can imagine.

1 comment:

  1. I think Erin will treasure that poem forever. I would love to see some of those poems in actual Spanish, as Jim and I have been going to Mexico a couple of times a month and I have befriended a group of women there at a small church. It might be fun to read the one you wrote about Erin to them. (Of course, I would have to use google translate to fully understand it!)