A day in the life of a teenager, what a waste. Alternatively, from another perspective, the life of the mother of a teenage delinquent. Tyler creates a rounded character within the writings of “Teenage Wasteland” in Daisy, the mother of the delinquent, and mostly disrespectful, teenager, Donny. From the beginning of the short story to end, Donny’s tribulations cause the motivation that allow Daisy to become a well-developed and dynamic character.
Through the use of informal dictation, Tyler shows Daisy as an everyday and old fashioned woman who struggles with being the parent of a difficult teenager whose culture is vastly different than her own, however is not ignorant to teenage wiles. Daisy is a wife and also the mother of two children, Donny, the eldest son, and Amanda, the youngest daughter; her life revolves around her children. At a time long past, she was a fourth grade teacher, which would give a semblance of being old fashioned, and somewhat down on herself.
Daisy is not attuned to modern fashion nor youthful actives such as modern rock music and hanging out. The comments “an overweight housewife in a cotton dress” and “She [I] wished she’d [I had] worn nylons instead of knee socks” (Tyler, 1984, p. 645) add to the credence to having a low self-esteem when conducting affairs with others; this was when she met Mr. Lanham, Donny’s principal. In addition to having self-esteem issues, items that did not fit her social norms also made her suspicious.
She was also quite out of touch with the youth’s taste in music. “Daisy winched at the rock music she had been hearing” (Tyler, 1984, p. 646) when she left Cal’s home office adds justification to this. These social norms, such as having a dedicated office in a professional environment, are called into question. Whereas leaving Donny’s counselor’s office, the thought of “This was were he lived as well as worked, evidently. ” (Daisy, 1984, p. 686) shows a skepticism towards Cal’s modern professionalism; Cal being Donny’s counselor.
Although Matt, Daisy’s husband, actually commented on the song “Teenage Wasteland” as being a metaphor for the scene of teenagers hanging out at Cal’s garage, Daisy’s thought of “In fact, she [I] might have been” (Tyler, 1984, p. 648) was an agreement to the Matt’s observation. While Daisy’s background of being a teacher should give her insight on how children grow and mature, she is almost at wits end with her son. This causes her to neglect her daughter now, almost a vise-versa of how Donny was neglected when Amanda was small.
Statements such as “Not now, honey. (Tyler, 1984, p. 644) when Amanda attempted to tell her something about her day, and “There was no way, really, to convey how exhausting this all was. ” (Tyler, 1984, p. 644) when attempting to explain how drained she felt when dealing with Donny to her husband, Matt. Her exasperation with two children is evident with comments such as “a new baby keeps you so busy. ” and “she longed-she-ached for a time machine” (Tyler, 1984, p. 645) which would give her more time to spend with Donny also, instead of utilizing most of her time with the younger daughter, Amanda after she was born.
Also evident of not being able to juggle two children is Daisy telling Amanda “Bye, honey. Sorry,” (Tyler, 1984, p. 646) when cutting dinner short to transport Donny to counseling. Although Daisy is old-fashioned and does have issues juggling her two children, she is not naive. Her ability to notice crafted stories is brought to light when Cal sympathetically comments on rules Donny has broken and the repercussions that arise from them. Where Cal was compassionate with Donny’s plight, Daisy’s comment of “But if the rule is-” (Tyler, 1984, p. 49) shows that rules are hard and to be abided by, not debatable with.
In addition, while explaining to Donny, “It isn’t a matter of trust, honey” when he tries to weave a story of his mother not trusting him to go to a party without adult supervision. Another reason Daisy appears to have a keen sense about her, is when Donny claims Cal is nothing more than a talisman and does not need to study for an impending quiz (Tyler, 1984), with a thought of “A talisman! For a talisman, she’d [I had] given up all luxuries, all that time with her [my] daughter, her [my] evenings at home! ” (Tyler, 1984, p. 647).
When Donny attempted to instigate an argument by inferring she is being overly controlling and competitive towards Cal (Tyler, 1984), all Daisy could do is “bit her lip and said no more” (Tyler, 1984, p. 648) to avoid a further confrontation. Lastly, when Donny attempt to spin a story that another boy caused his locker to be search which caused his expulsion from school, Daisy’s response was “What was the boy’s name” and “Doesn’t Donny ever get blamed? ” when Cal sided with the son (Tyler, 1984, p. 649). Donny, noticing that his mother is not as naive as he thought, and vanished, running away from home.
In the end, Daisy shows herself to be a strong woman who has to deal with many life problems. From balancing a family of two children and a husband to dealing with the teenage child acting out. She shows to not be the inexperienced parent that Donny thinks she is, and in reality, is a very observant woman. Although she begins the story with negative self-esteem issues, it fades when compared to her parental astuteness, especially in relation to Donny. Although she may be out of touch with the modern culture of the youth, she also has a firm understanding of what is right and wrong.
Even though Daisy is painfully aware of the lost time she has had with Amanda, she continues to worry about Donny and probably always will. She will continue to as shown with the comments “It’s been three months now and still no word” (Tyler, 1984, p. 650). Matt and Daisy still look for him [Donny] in every crowd of awkward, heartbreaking teenage boys. ” justify how she knows that she does not know what she could have done differently. In the end, Daisy does what she can for Donny, even if ignored, and ends up being wasted days in the life of a teenager.