Questioning everything! #AtoZChallenge

Q is for Questioning everything! Seventeenth of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

When I turned 13 in 1963, I was still coming off childhood and living in the moment without much introspection.

But as my early teens progressed, I started forming my own opinions — and pretty soon I was questioning everything!

Most of the time, my teen questions were aimed at the nonsensical edicts of adults — but soon enough, I was also critically assessing my peers who I disagreed with.

The suitcase conundrum

My maternal grandmother Liz (Stoutner) Laurence, who we called Boom, had some famous pronouncements that could always get me going. Enter the suitcase conundrum.

During my teens, I traveled alone to my grandparents’ house on the train or bus to spend a couple of weeks in the summer. And there were contradictory rules for these trips.

“Don’t talk to strangers,” Boom would admonish, “And don’t lift your suitcase on and off the overhead rack, ask someone to help you.” The obvious question: How do I ask someone to help me if I can’t talk to strangers? Sheesh! Anyway, it was the sixties — I could lift my own suitcase.

Challenging adults

By the time I was 14, my diary started containing confrontations here and there with adults as I gained my teen footing — like this three-day run  in April 1964.

April 8, 1964. I can’t talk on the telephone for a week cause I asked Dad if he could be more quiet.[We had one phone located in our dining room.]

April 9, 1964. Miss T. yelled at us, so I go, “Who does she think she is?” Then she said, “I know who I am, do you know who you are?” Now she’s all mad. What’ll I do?

April 10, 1964. Mr. S. said if he catches Kath or I in the A.V. room he’ll move our lockers! [I had a crush on an A.V. guy at the time.]

Mixed parties and thwarted double dates

Meanwhile, as my teen girlfriends started having house parties and inviting boys, my parents were stuck in 1950s-World.  A Junior Prom-style date was the only type they would approve of — all carefully chaperoned with a parent driving us to and from. I was not happy.

Jan. 20, 1964. Jackie’s having a mixed party [boys and girls] and I can’t go! Feb. 9, 1964. Terry said they played spin the bottle [a kissing game] at Jackie’s party!

By the time I was 15, my friends had moved on to dating and going steady, but my folks (who had not dated until college) still wouldn’t relent.

Hence this sad diary entry in my now larger journal — since I’d outgrown my childhood one.

Dec. 23, 1965. Last night I was going to double date with a friend of mine. I made sure my parents knew all parties involved so they couldn’t possibly object. I might’ve known they’d find something to object to no matter how careful I was. [In this case, the boy was older than me.]

Questioning classmates

Meanwhile, at school, I was beginning to have my own, strong ideas about literature, art, history — you name it.

The last straw in English was a classmate who criticized one of my favorite books — Catcher In the Rye.

Oct. 1, 1965. [She] is the epitome of pessimism. She lacks insight and perception of beauty and purpose…[and] has made numerous derogatory comments about, “Catcher in the Rye.” I never cease to be amazed at the amount of sordid information she manages to dig out of that perfectly harmless book.

Thus, bit by bit, I started questioning everything and everyone during my early teen years — my grandparents, my teachers, my parents, my classmates — unaware at the time that each pointed query was another step on the path to forming my own, personal outlook.

Up next, R is for Rock and Roll DJs. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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11 thoughts on “Questioning everything! #AtoZChallenge”

  1. This is such a beautiful entry in your series Molly. We always (well, I do) think of ourselves as ugly, awkward ducklings in the teen years. I never seemed to have the right fashion, or hairdo or tan or hair colour. I felt so gauche but boy did I question my elders – particularly my poor teachers. And yet it was just part of our creating who we were at the time. I’m not proud of a lot of my teen years but it was an essential part of forging who we are today.

  2. I was largely a compliant teen until I got to uni/college or perhaps my last year at high school. I don’t remember being in questioning mode until then…but once “let loose”!! The impact of Vatican II had such an effect on religious attitudes for Catholics after 1966.

    1. Ha ha — yes, I was even less compliant in college/uni, when the sixties were in full swing and I could finally chuck the dresses and heels for jeans, boots and a top. Then the questions really flowed.

  3. Certainly a necessary step during the teen years as we move towards adulthood although it can be challenging as a parent. I love that you still have your diary entries to help you remember. That’s wonderful. Weekends In Maine

  4. This was quite entertaining. I agree that the part about not talking to strangers but asking someone to lift your suitcase was funny. Your comment about the Catcher in the Rye critic was funny, too. Which means that I must now made a terrible confession. I had to read Catcher in the Rye twice (once as a teenager and the second time as an adult in a book club). I disliked it both times!!! I just didn’t like the main character. Well, sigh. Other people can see much more into the book than I can! But that’s life and tastes and all that!

    1. Thanks, Alice. Yes, once you start looking critically at the world as a teen it’s amazing how nonsensical — and funny — others edicts and pronouncements can be.

  5. That was such an amusing read ! Kind of a miniature Catcher In The Rye! Teenage hormones totally taking over ! The part about suitcase and strangers had me giggling 😀

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