The Village Idiot
That would be me! From what I can see, I’m just beginning the second year of a minimum four year sentence as a Village Idiot. I say minimum because the sentence may be extended at any time and without advance notice – written or verbal.
Actually, I’m not treading on unfamiliar turf. I received a similar sentence earlier in my life. If I remember correctly, that one lasted about 14 or 15 years give or take a half dozen years or so. These things tend to get blurry after a while.
My first sentence began when my oldest child was about 13 years old. It continued uninterrupted until somewhere around the time my youngest offspring began to develop a sincere appreciation for early morning physical conditioning and hurried breakfasts in the presence of cranky, uniformed seniors. My current sentence as Village Idiot comes compliments of a teenage granddaughter who is living with us.
For those of you who have lived in a “teenager house”, this really doesn’t require much in the way of explanation, does it? It’s pretty much of an automatic transition for us parents – or grandparents in many cases. Here we are, cruising through life as wonderful, caring, nurturing, wise adults. Then suddenly one morning we wake up with ninety percent of our brains having been mysteriously removed while we slept soundly in our little beds.
We are the result of a negative parental metamorphosis. We have become the slugs of the earth. Pond scum. We are uncaring ogres – trolls guarding the bridge to a teenage life of fun and excitement.
“You don’t care about me anymore!”
“You never listen to me!”
“You hate me!”
“Stop treating me like a baby!”
“But everybody’s doing it!”
“You just don’t understand!”
“You just don’t care!”
The plaque reads “Certified Village Idiot”. Mine has four oak leaf clusters. Not bad - and I must say it does look rather nice on my office wall. I look at it and think about the day when I presented my parents with the exact same document. I remember how difficult – and frustrating - it was to try to make the transition from child to adult. To want the independence so badly without understanding what the word really meant. To desperately believe at the ripe old age of sixteen that I was all “grown up” and ready make my way into the big wide world – or at least to the edge of town.
I remember – and understand at least to some extent, the turmoil, frustration and confusion faced by teenagers. Turmoil that today is made worse by a myriad of temptations and attitudes that just didn’t exist when I was that age. Frustrations that are exacerbated by a brain still in the formative stages. And confusions that are compounded by a bombardment of conflicting messages and lifestyles.
“Certified Village Idiot.” What an awesome responsibility! What a tremendously challenging, potentially rewarding task! What a pain in the butt! (Honesty is good, remember?) All parents are bound to receive this designation sometime in their lives. And all we can do when this happens is dig deep into our patience drawer and continue to do the best we can to provide the guidance, understanding and love that will prepare our blossoming adults to someday accept the very same certificate from their children. Well worth doing, I’d say…
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