Distorted Images: Being a Parent and Remember Back When…

By Irina Pino

Photo: Angel Yu

HAVANA TIMES — Drifting around, indiscipline, a rebellious attitude are all behaviors that belong to adolescence and youth. Have we forgotten, tied to a not-so-distant time?

As parents, it’s in our interest to forget how rebellious we were, our hate for school, our getaways, our drifting around. However, everything is born out of something, nothing just happens.

We used to have teachers who used to impose their rules on us, not wanting to listen to different opinions, when somebody wanted to say something, they were told to be quiet. I had a math teacher in high school who was a real tyrant, he used to make fun of those who didn’t pick up things quickly, of the slower learners, I won’t say stupid, because nobody is, but when we don’t understand something, we reject the problem.

The guy used to write sums up on the board and he would explain it super fast, without stopping. Those who didn’t get it were left hanging.

He used to throw out the students he caught talking in class. Rumor went round that he was having an affair with one of my classmates because they both used to make eyes at each other. She used to go see him at his desk to clear up her queries and he was always giving her high grades. However, he used to disregard those young people who had problems with the subject. There was a shower of fails on his exams.

Then there was the teacher who used to give work education classes who told us to get materials that we couldn’t get our hands on, or he used to send those horrible work letters, with measurements to make drawings, which nearly none of my classmates could do exactly. I did whatever! He didn’t give anyone a chance or help anyone either.

They were strict classes, unappealing courses.

A small group of students, which I joined, used to ditch school so we didn’t have to go to the math or work education classes, which contributed to putting us in both their sight. We used to wander about Old Havana o Miramar. We used to hide if we saw the police coming.

Those days of drifting around led to other experiments: trying cigarettes, sex… irresponsible acts that had a price to pay. My parents didn’t know how to deal with this: I was punished a great deal, I wasn’t given any feedback. A restrictive education only provokes the opposite.

Later, in the ‘90s, a group of us went to the Patio de Maria, where rock bands used to play. Then, there was coming home late, parties that didn’t end until dawn…

Luckily, I never tried pills like some people I know, who used to take parquinosil with their drinks as well as other barbiturates which cased hallucinations. A friend of mine was in a critical state because of those explosive mixtures.

When I study my past and compare it to my son’s behavior, I realize that he is a lot less rebellious than I was, even though he complains that school is boring and that he would like to choose his subjects, change his class curricula, yet he still hasn’t ditched as many classes as me, or come home drunk like I did on more than one occasion. He hasn’t wanted to touch cigarettes. In the same vein, he still hasn’t ventured into trying out casual sex with strangers. He’s more open, he talks about things.

Coincidentally, I saw some of his videos with his friends smoking and drinking beer at a club, I got worried and I warned him about addictions. He replied that smoking disgusted him, but that he likes beer and has just one or two.

I wanted to argue, but neither drastic solutions nor punishments lead to anything good. Educating, reaching an agreement is more advisable.

I’m sure he will make a lot of stupid mistakes because peer pressure prevails, but he will also always have my advice. I have already told him about my experiences in the past.

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

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