Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.
Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.
The young always have the same problem — how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their elders and copying one another.
Adolescence is a modern invention, a time before the onset of responsibility. During this moratorium the not-yet-adult is allowed to rebel, to play, and to experiment. In primitive cultures the son was cast in the same mold as the father. The sacred ways of the ancestors were repeated without alteration.
The difficulty between parents and adolescents is not always caused by the fact that parents fail to remember what growing up was like, but that they do.
Why, I wonder, do people who at one time or another have all been young themselves, and who ought therefore to know better, generalize so suavely and so mendaciously about the golden hours of youth — that period of life when every sorrow seems permanent, and every setback insuperable?
I couldn’t remember how to forget myself. I didn’t want to think about myself, to reckon myself in, to deal with myself every livelong minute on top of everything else — but swerve as I might, I couldn’t avoid it. I was a boulder blocking my own path. I was a dog barking between my own ears, a barking dog who wouldn’t hush. So this was adolescence.
You don’t have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.
If I talk, everyone thinks I’m showing off; when I’m silent they think I’m ridiculous; rude if I answer, sly if I get a good idea, lazy if I’m tired, selfish if I eat a mouthful more than I should, stupid, cowardly, crafty, etc., etc.
At fourteen you don’t need sickness or death for tragedy.
I have no contempt for that time of life when our friendships are most passionate and our passions incorrigible and none of our sentiments yet compromised by greed or cowardice or disappointment. The volatility and intensity of adolescence are qualities we should aspire to preserve.
Fuck. I hate all this stuff. How old do you have to get before it stops?
To be young is all there is in the world. . . . [Adults] talk so beautifully about work and having a family and a home (and I do, too, sometimes) — but it’s all worry and headaches and respectable poverty and forced gushing. . . . Telling people how nice it is, when, in reality, you would give all of your last thirty years for one of your first thirty. Old people are tremendous frauds.
Teenagers have no monopoly on [adolescent behavior], except insofar as we are in fact a teenage society — a society that likes to play “chicken” not with fast cars, but with ballistic missiles.
As he drove the little Ford safely to its garage, he remembered for the first time in years when he was young and brash, a student in New York, and the shriek and horror and unholy smother of the subway had its original meaning for him as the lilt and expectation of love.
Am I the person who used to wake in the middle of the night and laugh with the joy of living? Who worried about the existence of God, and danced with young ladies till long after daybreak? Who sang “Auld Lang Syne” and howled with sentiment, and more than once gazed at the full moon through a blur of great, romantic tears?
The distinction between children and adults, while probably useful for some purposes, is at bottom a specious one, I feel. There are only individual egos, crazy for love.