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I was always a “little kid” to my parents. It didn’t matter how old I was, the fact that I had other friends, other interests besides mom and dad, or that, especially in high school, I started to live in a completely different world from theirs; I was always “Davey,” especially to my dad. And for the most part, I didn’t mind.

My brother is the stereotypical teen who spends a lot of time alone, locked in his room. He may not fight with our parents, but they do argue. In a way, he resents them. I think there’s a whole background of how he wants to be seen contrasted with how they tried to raise him, and, in general, he isn’t big on family. And that’s fine by me. I completely understand where he’s coming from. When your parents make you go to church every Sunday, try to control who your friends are, don’t let you go to parties, there can be a bitter feeling.

More so today than ever, kids- teens especially- have two drastically different worlds they live in. One, obviously, is the family life. The other is our social lives. At home, we have nobody to impress. At school, at friend’s houses, we’re still trying to climb the ladder. Make friends. Fit in. Dress right. Get ripped. Look good. Be funny. At home, none of that counts.
There’s a definitive difference in the goals of the two worlds for teens. At home, you have to be good. Don’t make a mess, don’t talk back, do your chores, all of it. And when you’re trying to impress people, trying to fit in, you’ll do almost anything. That’s why at school, good kids can can make fun of people, can talk differently, walk differently. But parents don’t want that.

And as people, we have a natural desire to be accepted. We need, more than anything, to fit in. As we are constantly told that our parents love us no matter what, the social world feels more and more important. Almost everyone fits in with their parents, but its hard to be accepted at school. Coupled with the fact that we all leave home at some point, most of us to college where finding friends feels even more important, the social world seems to attract us more and more- eventually, it always wins.

The desire to dissociate from your parents, then, makes sense. They represent the home life, the good kids, the sweet, nice little boys that aren’t ripped and don’t dress right and don’t fit in. When we’re trying to survive in the social world, we don’t want to be seen with our parents. We know that we won’t be with them forever, and, more than anything, we just want to grow up, hasten the inevitable.

I know all of this because I’m living in it. I have two completely different lives, and I recognize how hard it is to balance them. I’ve seen what it has done to the relationship between my brother and my parents- the distance is painful. So, I didn’t think it was a big deal that my parents still clung on to little “Davey”. Parents don’t want kids to grow up, to resent them like they resented their parents, and to leave bitter. Parents want nine-year-olds who listen, help out, give them kisses on the cheek when they say goodnight. So I let them cling. I was always okay with being their little kid who would never leave home, who would take sacrifices in the social world to have a good relationship- part of me even wanted to stay like that forever, to stop time and live nicely where I’m happy and they’re happy. But that world has been fading, and it’s been a long process.


My memory is filled with events, not even that long ago, of me being a little kid to my dad.
He went to go get groceries. As he pulled out of the driveway, he said, “Oh, and Davey? I love you,” big smile visible through the window. I told him to go get the groceries. So he doesn’t say it anymore. That was four years ago. Social life over home life.

He used to ask me about girls. But that was a cardinal sin. The two worlds don’t mix. I told him to stop being so awkward, and he stopped asking. Three years ago.

He used to jump on me, shouting, “I’m falling!” and squash me on the couch. That ended when I was fourteen, and yelled at him. Friends over family.

He used to call me Davey. Then I told him, as clearly as I could make it:

“I’m sick of being treated like a little kid still.” He asked what I meant. I explained how I was a year away from leaving home, but I still had to follow all of his rules. “I’m still Davey, and you still think that this is the center of my life,” I said, motioning to the house around me.” The next day, he called me “David.”


It probably seems small and inconsequential, but I felt my stomach sink when he said it. To me, and maybe to my dad, “Davey” meant that I was still his kid, his little nine-year-old. It meant I would listen to him, get good grades, do what he says. And even though I could see it coming for a long time, “David” meant the end.


I find myself torn between the two worlds. I want to be an adult- I want to be able to do what I want, chose my friends, stay out at night. But inside, I still long for a bear hug, the progression of bear hugs from “baby black bear” to “daddy brown bear”- the hardest bear hug of them all. Or games of “HORSE” outside. Or helicopter rides on his shoulders. Or how he used to jump on me and shout, “I’m falling! Catch me, Davey!” And he would land on me, and we would laugh, and I could never get him off.

I regret pushing my dad away more than anything. But he couldn’t cling on for much longer, and I can’t live at home for ever. I know that, no matter how hard I tried, I would have been carried along. Toddler to teen, teen to adult. My home life-my dad- isn’t at the center of my universe the way he used to be, and I think it was hard for both of us to accept.

I suppose that getting older, leaving home, is something that everyone has to deal with. But I feel like it’s a cycle filled with regret every time. Parents pushed too hard from their parents, so they try to cling on to their kids, who push, then pull, and push. And it may be the hardest thing to accept, but it needs to be accepted, sooner than later.

I’m lucky; having seen my brother’s strained relationship, I had sixteen beautiful years of childhood, and I did my best to make sure of it. It feels like they’re ending now, but I think it’s time. Too often, kids push too hard. They separate from their parents at thirteen, fourteen. Sure, everyone wants to grow up. Realizing that you’re leaving something behind, though, can be painful. Even more so if you see it when it’s too late.

And parents face the inverse problem- they pull. They have thirteen-year-old infants who have to follow every rule, be home at this minute-or-else, comb their hair this way, eat this, think this. Parents need to see the problems kids face, the struggle between two different worlds where one will win every time. Kids grow up. It would be helpful if they had allies instead of dictators.




If I could, I would change a lot. I would have held on to my family more, but I don’t think the outcome would have been different. Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was, that, even though I made mistakes, I was able to enjoy a great part of life at home. I’m just ready to move on. We all go through stages, and the transitional periods are the hardest. That’s why people have a midlife crisis. So I think it’s important to be able to realize what we’re leaving behind as we move; in that sense, we can thoroughly live every stage of life. I wouldn’t want to be waiting, thinking that the next ten years are what I need, to the day I die. I’d rather just live each role fully.




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This article has 9 comments. Post your own!

TargonTheDragonThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 3:51 pm:
wow! i totally loved this! i agree totally also! just because i am breaking away from my family doesnt mean i dont need them, its just i want to make and be my own family. it only natural for the bird to leave the nest:P
 
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Jade.I.AmThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 7 at 12:51 pm:
This is beautiful! And very well written. Obviously, as a teen, I can relate to this a lot..
 
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PotterWhoLocked said...
May 6 at 5:48 pm:
wow, this is a really well written article. I'm glad to say I've been blessed with parents who won't let me grow up too fast, and though I push them away now, I know they'll always be there for me. As Shagun said, very mature writing.
 
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BrittyBritThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 5 at 1:06 pm:
amazing, amazing amazing.   5/5 stars
 
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ShagunThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 4 at 10:46 am:
I was literally holding my breath while reading this. Your writing is so mature. I have what you might call a 'Tiger Mother' I'm going to write an article about that household soon but meanwhile would you read my The Epiphany and The Lost Battle?. Also, I'm going to hug mom tonight. Thank you. Your word pierce through every layer and hit right at the heart of things. Wonderful job. 
 
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moet14This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 4 at 10:27 am:
This is very original and talented.nice job keep it up    
 
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wannabebritThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 2 at 5:49 pm:
Your idea on maturity in a teen that separates them from being a kid and needing their parents is spot on and really creatively reflective! Great job!
 
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readaholicThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 30 at 10:01 pm:
This is really incredible,  Every parent and teen needs to read this, you describe the dual-worlds dilemna perfectly.  Really, that's exactly how it is!  Thank you for capturing and compacting what has been such a huge issue for teenagers and their families everywhere! Sorry if that sounds meolodramatic.  But it is really good.
 
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LiraDaerisThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 30 at 6:42 pm:
I applaud thee. This definitely deserves the editor's choice check. The only real critique is that "friend's" houses needs to be "friends' houses" because I assume you have more than one friend or that your one friend only has one house. This is so true. Ironically, the first radio contest I won was on my first time listening, and it was to answer the question of "What is 3x harder for thirteen year olds to do than nine year olds?" and the answer was talking to their parents. Because we're gro... (more »)
 
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