Listening to Young People in School, Youth Work, and Counselling

By Nick Luxmoore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Kevin
In Defence of Thirteen-year-old Boys

His birthday presents await him. Kevin sits excitedly with his Mum and Dad: a charming twelve-year-old boy, waiting for the clock to strike midnight and his thirteenth birthday to begin.

The clock strikes but, to his parents’ complete astonishment, their charming son explodes into Kevin the teenager, a thirteen-year-old with a vengeance. ‘I hate you! You’re always blaming me! It’s so unfair! Can’t you see you’re ruining my life?’ Mum and Dad sit dumbstruck as Kevin the teenager stomps off into a self-inflicted future (Harry Enfield 1997).

We laugh because we recognise. We’ve been like Kevin and, looking back, teenage behaviour does seem funny: funny because it’s so unnecessary. Kevin seems such a fool: so clumsy, inarticulate, selfish, so ugly.

Thirteen-year-old boys, the men and fathers of the future, often do seem like this. They are unattractive. Other chapters in the book will explore some of the difficulties experienced by girls but, compared to boys, girls can appear altogether more grown-up and sensible. Boys can be rude, smelly, thoughtless, antisocial, cruel, sexist, racist: everything that might make us want to consign them to the depths. He’s unreachable, we say. He won’t be helped. He’ll just have to learn the hard way. Ah well, it’s his loss …

Boys have mixed feelings about this reaction. It absolutely delights them but at the same time they despair of it. And we carry on hating them for what they’ve become. We ignore, blame, and in some vague way, want to see them punished.

-9-

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