Posts Tagged ‘generations’

I think I owe you an apology.  You have a trickier path to walk than I did.  In all areas of life it seems.  As a child, I played at the playground without worry of “stranger danger”.  I slid down impossibly steep metal slides that burned your ass on the way down, swung on swings with rusty, non-vinyl covered chains, and rode on the merry-go-round as long as the older kids would push it around.  I had four channels to pick from and it was everything in the world to wait for 8:00 on Saturday night to see who would be the special guest stars on The Love Boat.  I was alive for the birth of the “blockbuster” and movies were still such an event since they didn’t release new ones every week demanding your attention and dollars.  And I had John Hughes movies.

When I played with my friends it wasn’t an event called a “play-date” with pre-planned snacks, keeping in mind everyone’s allergies. Sure I still was playing with the occasional lead painted toy and went to an elementary school stuffed full with asbestos, but everyone has their challenges.

Now every generation thinks the generation before them just doesn’t understand them, and I think that’s true and part of how one becomes an adult.  That process of discovering that for all our differences, we’re really very much the same.  The cool part is though that the “younger generation” does get stuff just a little bit differently, a little bit better, because their parents are raising them just a little bit differently than their own parents.  The difference for you, and the aspect I didn’t have to deal with, was being labeled a generation so young.

They came up with the name for my generation late in my growing up time and they didn’t even know what we were yet so they just labeled us X.  So in one sense, at least you got a defining name.  Although for me, personally, not being able to be defined is just lovely.  We were a transition generation possibly more so than others.  They say we don’t feel like a generation, “even though they are one”.  We had the Vietnam war and the Cold War.  We had some tragic events, but not like the earlier generations.  And while technology was making leaps and bounds, social media was an infant.

I knew MTV when they actually played music videos.  You had MTV1, MTV2, and MTV3, and they mostly played reality shows.  We didn’t have “smart” classrooms and we still diagrammed sentences.  We were the last of the standard skill and drill education.  I listened to my favorite radio station and hoped to hear my favorite song.  You had MP3 players and satellite radio with stations dedicated to specific music.

We were also the last to grow up without being defined while we doing the growing up.  I do not envy you the load you carry.  You have taken standardized tests forever and have been surveyed more than other generations, at least to my humble knowledge.  I would be sick of filling in the little round bubbles too.  I had to know my social security number because it was the magic key to all things at college.  Your social security number is protected by the “student ID #”, lest there is a really good hacker.  Your parents have tried to give you everything, and, in the process, you may have missed some key paths on the road to adulthood.

I know this doesn’t apply to all of you.  I know you get frustrated by being lumped together.  I know you are not afraid of challenges.  I know you want to solve the problem on your own, but your mom logged into your college learning management system and emailed the professor before you had a chance to go to the office hours and discuss the situation.  I know you are more comfortable texting and using social media with your friends than I am.  I know you are also perfectly capable of holding a lovely conversation about a wider variety of topics than I could at your age.

You are more world-aware than I was in my teens and twenties.  Hell, in my teens, the only world awareness I had was the 80s British New Wave invasion and what I learned from Live Aid.  But I didn’t have the world at my fingertips through Google.  I had newspapers, magazines, and the very powerful MTV news delivered by those beloved VJs.  I can’t imagine how tired you must feel at times trying to determine where to give your attention to and for how long and with how much passion.

We were talking about you tonight at church.  How do we share with you the ways in which we, the church, are still relevant in your life?  How do we share with you that not all churches are fundamentalist churches?  How do we share with you that we could be a meaningful part of your life?  I better stop there with the questions…don’t like to abuse the rhetorical question device.

I look at my sons.  Their mom is a Gen Xer and their dad is a Baby Boomer.  They have already been dubbed Generation Z.  I know the term helicopter parent only too well so I avoid being that as much as possible.  I tell my youngest when he gets his little league trophy that he’s getting it for showing up.  I don’t want him to think that there are only winners.  I want them both to learn how to cope with losing now so they have time to develop that skill.  I want my sons to know that you have to earn things, learn things.  I know you know that too, Millennial, but we forget that sometimes because we’re trying to catch up and absorb things the way you do.  You have always had multiple media outlets to compare and use to shape your views, in addition to what your family has shaped in you.  I still turn to an encyclopedia first-and then remember I could Google it.  Maybe we don’t want to be left behind as you forge ahead in this very different world that isn’t that different.  Maybe we think it’s so different because it’s not the same as what I, and the generations before, had access to.  To you, it’s perfectly normal to Google something.  It’s your first resource.  To me, I have to remind myself.  To the older generations, they may not even own a computer and are still wondering why they now have to pay so much money for cable just to watch the local news.

Information is power…when I was little, knowledge was power and I learned it every Saturday morning when School House Rock played in between Saturday morning cartoons (the only day the good cartoons were on…no Cartoon Network).  But information has replaced knowledge, I fear.  Actually, my fear is that a little information has replaced knowledge.  But I didn’t grow up in your world.  I grew up in the heyday of broadcast television, event movies, and newspapers for that serious stuff in life.

We sort of slipped by the bean counters.  But man, Millennial, they love counting beans related to you.  I’m sorry that fell to your shoulders.  I suppose the information highway helped with that.  While I was playing Space Invaders on my Atari, they got the World Wide Web ready for you.  And it got filled up fast.  And they started watching you like hawks.  How do they interact with ______?  How do they interact with each other with _______?  It’s no wonder you text each other while sitting next to each other-at least no one will ask you about what you are texting about and why and when and what for….

So gentle Millennial, chin up.  You’re starting to look more and more like an adult to us…the ones who like to study you.  And a bunch of us, Gen X, Boomer, Greatest, and GI generations combined, are less interested in studying you and instead simply getting to know you. So come inside.  Get to know us.  I promise- no survey bubbles up my sleeve.  Talk with us.  Have a conversation.  Help us learn how to not pigeon-hole Generation Z.  Help us learn from our very recent history how to not drive away the very ones we’re trying to make it better for.


A Gen Xer

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By popular request, okay, one request, specifically, Cindy, here’s the evil baby photo…

This is the set up of the four baby pictures (from L-R): 6-year-old, me, hubby, eight-year-old


Evil baby and sweet hubby

Sweet 6-year-old

Sweet 8-year-old

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Life never ceases to amaze me.  Simple declarations released into the cyber void can help shape one’s perspective.  While I have yet to officially scrape anything off my plate, my brain was swirling with wonderful, exciting ideas.  The overwhelming sense of mediocrity is dissipating and quickly being replaced with a sense of joy.  Simple joy…an achievable joy.

Simplicity is aided beautifully by the technology of today.  As I shape my goals, I am aware of the many ways technology could aid me in achieving the goals.  When I think of what we can use today, I realize I must feel the same way my great grandmother did when cars started replacing the horse & buggy.  The inventions my nana saw throughout her lifetime were life-changing.  From horse & buggy to cars, from radio to television to cable & VCRs, from ice box to freezer/fridge combos, the end of the milkman (which for her didn’t happen till the 80s…small, New England town advantage!).

I was introduced to many of these inventions along with her before she passed.  And I have returned to some of her ways of life (farm fresh milk…yummy).  I now know the meaning behind some of the cute and mischievous smiles that would spread across my nana’s face.  I enjoy the look of disbelief from my sons when I explain I only had five or six television channels (three that always came in, the rest depended on the antenna) and the same smile spreads over my face.  When I try to explain that you could only watch shows when they were aired, they simply don’t understand it.  Happily, library books don’t change and they are learning that the same way I did.  Imagination never changes-you either use it or lose it.  I share that with my sons.

We had a fun conversation during bedtime this evening about the donkey and elephant toys.  They were made by my nana for me so the toys are cultured (not old!) like me.  My son asked if used my imagination when I played with the donkey and elephant.  We talked about the differences in how I played and how they play.  They came to realize all the ways we play involve imagination.

Imagination is a key ingredient in shaping my goals.  Can’t tell you what the goals are.  Not because they are a secret, they’re just not fully formed.  Patience is a part of simplicity and I am actually being patient with myself, letting the ideas slowly mull in my brain as they take shape.  It’s exciting and invigorating.  At least for me.

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Today I had a lovely time at my niece’s bridal shower.  She was truly surprised and had a wonderful day surrounded by women who love her.  My hubby got to spend the day with our sons at a birthday party (in the morning) and then playing Polar Bowling on the computer.  The great feat of the day was teaching our oldest how to sing Three Stooges “Swinging the Alphabet.”

It was a lovely day and I really enjoyed the company at the shower.  I am also practicing a new skill today.  Knowing when to do nothing.  I’m relaxing the rest of the evening and watching a movie.  Doing nothing.

Hope you do nothing tonight too.

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Good Friday service was good.  I was charged to tarry in the darkness for a while, not rush to the beauty of Easter too quickly.  I can tarry for a bit.

I’ve been struggling with the idea of a calling.  Now a calling does not have to be to working in a church as a leader, though there I feel I understood my humble calling to work with the children of my church.  I’m not the most organized Sunday School superintendent, but I do love finding ways for the students to make connections to their own faith journey.  I really enjoy VBS and get excited and renewed by the process every year.

I feel a calling to be a good wife and mother.  I think I understand how the balance goes back and forth now as the boys are younger and need me more on a day-to-day basis than my husband does.  It is a challenge every day to be a good wife and mother.  I fail some days in removing the egocentric aspects of human existence and fail to focus on the true priorities.  But each day is another day to focus on the priorities and to fill my soul with grace and patience for myself and others.

The calling I am struggling with is that idea of a big grand purpose.  I realize there may not be one for me.  It may be that I contribute to this world through my relationships with God and my family.  But long ago I thought I could hear my calling so much more clearly.  Perhaps as my life travels have gotten longer and more varied, the calling changed to small tributaries on my path.  A little bit here, a little bit there.  I don’t know.  What I do know is I feel a little bit hollow or empty in some aspect of my life.  I can’t readily identify the aspect although I know what it isn’t.  I know I feel happy and fulfilled in my relationships with God and my family. I know I love being a wife and mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend.  Perhaps I am at a plateau and this hollow feeling is actually a feeling of calm.  A calmness I am simply not used to experiencing.

I do not have the answer.  But I don’t mind tarrying here for a while. Reflecting on this season and the gift of yesterday and the beauty of tomorrow.

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Today I had the sad epiphany that I am “the man.” When this happened I do not know, but somehow I am the establishment. I am an administrator at a small, private university and work with students. Today, I asked to meet with a student because of a problem. The student was very defiant and defensive from the get-go. Every question I asked and each suggestion I offered were struck down. This student knew everything and had all the answers. The student left after about eight minutes, with the only resolution being that the student had gotten the last word.

I can’t say it was too difficult to get the last word because around six minutes into the exchange, I saw the look on the student’s face and realized…to this person, I am “the man!” I am the establishment trying to hold a student down because the department has policies and procedures that have to be followed. The job we were discussing “was not fun” and a “waste of time.” I’m “the man!”

When I began this job two and a half years ago, I had no idea that one of the unintended consequences would be this. I try to be a person the students can come to and seek advice, or to chat, or to hang. I try to create an atmosphere similar to the one in my student-worker job back in college. The atmosphere is there with some of the students I work with-I know it, I feel it, and they explicitly tell me. But with others, I am and will always be the establishment. How dreadful!

I am fully aware that I am the same age as their parents and so by default I can’t be cool. My references to films, television, and music are horribly outdated. One time, my class made a list of films I should watch so I could be a wee bit more hip. I couldn’t sit through most of them because the movies were rip-offs of the films of my teen years. Why watch a knock-off when I can watch the real thing? Some films, however, are standards-most students today know John  Hughes, they know Disney, they know horror films. But…

A student was telling me about the movies he saw over spring break. I asked if one was similar to Independence Day. He stared blankly at me. He was four when ID4 was released.

Only a few know about Queen. Sadly Freddie was dead before the current sophomores and freshmen were born. They know a few of the songs, mostly through sporting events and commercials. A handful know Neil Diamond because he was in some movie. But Carole King, James Taylor, and the British invasion of the 80’s are a mystery to them.

They watch shows I can’t wrap my brain around. They think the same things about my shows that I thought about the old CBS line-up, Murder, She Wrote, and Matlock (both of which I watch now if I catch them on tv). We do all share Betty White though, don’t we?

I will continue to try to be someone the students can turn to, if they choose. I will embrace what one of my students told me once in class. She said, “You’re not old. You’re cultured.” Cultured like a pearl with bits of wisdom, if anyone wants to listen.

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