One thing I’ve been thinking about over the last couple of years is just what the heck is going to happen to T’s nieces.
They’re charming and reasonably bright, but they’ve got a tough cycle to break out of. This decade will be the one that determines whether they bypass young pregnancy and getting sucked into the welfare lifestyle. Having a kid at 16 isn’t the end of the world of course, but it’s a very difficult thing to work around, especially with a background like theirs. (And I get the overwhelming feeling that abortion is frowned upon in their family.)
Now the older one is in high school, T agrees it’s time to really keep an eye on her and try to set her up on a good path. I told him I’m totally happy to do whatever I can – I’m just not sure what that is.
The main concern is making sure she doesn’t fall through the cracks; that’s not to say she has a bad home life, because she is loved and cared for, but she is certainly lacking in a certain type of role model, surrounded by adults who don’t work and haven’t worked for years.
What do I do?
What do I talk to her about?
How do I talk to her about those things?
I guess the end goal is in getting her to think beyond school and about actual career paths – university even – and how to get there, and the importance of taking her studies seriously. This is so alien to me, because I grew up in the kind of environment where thinking about what you might want to be when you grew up was like thinking about what kind of guy you might marry. And I worked hard at school for the sake of achieving, if nothing else.
She and I are about 10 years apart, but things are so different. I grew up pre-Facebook and Snapchat, before even the most basic of cellphones had colour screens and cameras, when MSN and open internet chatrooms (do they still exist?) were the cutting edge. I was nerdy and academic, and while she’s not dumb, she’s certainly not a nerd. I was gawky and mousy and she’s cute, if not model material, and knows it. And our family environments are POLES apart – you can’t even imagine.
I’ve been considering joining a mentoring scheme for teenage girls (though I haven’t signed on yet – am unsure about the logistics involved and how difficult it would be to meet my commitment). And now I’m definitely in two minds about it. Maybe I should just be focusing my time/effort on her. Take care of business on your home patch first, and all that. But maybe mentoring someone else will also help me with her?
When they were younger they always came to me, were all over me everytime I visited, yammering away about anything and everything going on in their lives. Now they’re older and more self absorbed, I have to make the effort myself to connect with them.