I Am Fifteen

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I am a child. In my parents’ eyes I will always be their firstborn – an obstinate youngster who insisted on having long hair although it didn’t suit her. I will always be so many years younger than them and therefore incapable of making decisions for myself. I wonder when I am fifty and they are seventy will they still tell me to ‘tidy my room’ I can make no medical decisions for myself. My parents must give permission for any operation; they sign all my dental forms. Apparently I am not considered responsible enough to do this for myself.

I am an adolescent. In the opinion of psychiatrists and psychologists I am going through a difficult stage. I am expected to be rebellious and defiant. I am experiencing strange new emotions with which I cannot cope. I am quite normal because I have crushes on other people. They say it’s natural that I should be insolent and mutinous. In theory I am not supposed to feel happy and fulfilled. I should feel frustrated, rejected, unsociable and lacking in confidence. In short I think I am expected to be slightly sub-normal.

I am an adult and expected to behave like one. I cannot have silly, childish outbursts. I must only show my emotions in a proper manner. In school I am told that I am an adult – if only a young adult. I have to pay adult fares on public transport. I am old enough to be responsible for my actions in law. My parents expect me to behave like an adult in my manner. I am expected to say the right things at the right time. In my role as an adult, I should be completely socially acceptable. 

I am fifteen

and 

I am confused.

 

This was an entry for the 1978 WH Smith Literacy Competition

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