I’m feeling low down, I’m 18, and I don’t know what to do with my future: I’ve got the blues, man.
I’ve googled teenage songs and come across this lyric from the Eighteen Year Old Blues by Steve Carl from 1958 in a list on the Guardian website. Apparently the song ponders the options available to him.
I’ve been thinking about what my options were when I was 18. This morning I’ve been talking to the year 13 students at my old school. (Hello if any of you are reading this!) Teenagers generally get a bad press. Most articles or pieces about teenagers in newspapers or on the news focus on antisocial behaviours, how they are illiterate or lack numeracy skills, how many are NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training – over a million at the latest estimate) etc. It’s not a positive picture being painted.
What options are there for teenagers now? Adults with different levels of experience are struggling to work, there is a push on volunteering to get a foot in the door but many companies and organisations are reaching saturation. How many companies faced with an experienced out of work adult or a teenager are likely to pick the teenager? It’s an economically unstable world, there are few jobs for life anymore and it’s hard to find part time work. I’m not sure I’d like to be 18 now.
It’s December the first.
Yesterday, I was sitting in the school pool wearing factor 50. It seems very wrong to be in an open air pool in November. I watched my first live fashion show – the secondary students put it together to raise money for the school’s Saturday school which provides education for local orphans. They put on a really good show, models, dancing and a bit of singing.
This morning I worked as promt for the dress rehearsal of the secondary production of West Side Story. This afternoon I’m heading to Tunza to celebrate a first birthday – they are roasting a pig on the beach.
A kite swooped in on me and stole some of my lunch on Thursday. I’ve seen it happen before – circling ahead and then diving down onto the kids to grab a bit of food, all happening too fast to warn them. It had never happened to me before, I didn’t realise it had happened until afterwards. I felt a change in the air next to my head and spotted that some of my food had gone. Some of the children nearby laughed, some said things like ‘sorry Miss!’ but I found it entertaining, if nothing else. At least it didn’t scratch me, being allergic to plasters means things like that can be a pain to keep clean, especially in the dusty environment we have here.
There have been other firsts too, seeing or hearing something and reminding myself to call Dad to tell him. Then remembering that I can’t. In 12 days it will be my Grandmother’s 100th birthday – the first since she died and quite a significant one. Christmas will be the first without being anywhere near home, the first without getting a scratch card from Dad, the first in Africa. There are going to be lots of firsts, it’s almost as if my life is now divided in two – when Dad was around and after he died. All the potential things that could happen from now – boyfriend, husband, child, job, home, tattoo…whatever. Who knows. It’s going to be odd, some times sad, but it can’t be sad forever. I know he’s not going to be here for the important things. It’s the little things, the silly jokes, the random thoughts, the odd objects that I think to tell him about that keep catching me out. And it’s not as if it’s heart wrenching or anything, there’s just a small intake of breath, a pause mid sentence or foot steps stop whilst I remember and then I carry on. Which is how you manage to have more firsts.