Sunday, March 23, 2014

Delivery

I promised a post on my hope for the future generations, and now I must deliver. One thing I can honestly say, among even the very most compromised parents, I have never met a mother or father who I didn't truly believe loved their child. So, I do have faith that people I don't personally think should have children, will have children, and they will love their children, in whatever way they do.

On the bright side, I see young parents like my sister in law, Jennifer and my niece Dawn, whose children have every benefit emotionally, experientially (apparently I just made up that word), educationally, and materially. As I sat through a workshop on helping self-destructive adolescents Friday, I could not help but think of the relatively few problems my own children and I encountered as they graced through the teen years.

Here are some ways I think this generation (I think they are called the Millenials) are really smart, and hip, and cool.  They take much harder classes in high school; in my day there was no AP, Honors or Dual Credit classes. Many high school students now graduate with a semester or more of college credit and way higher level course work under their belt, thus preparing them to presumably advance further in their college years.

Let's talk about risks. Today's youth have much more education, awareness and common sense about the risks of drinking and driving, smoking and drugs. Many kids now have parent supervised parties, or at least "parent at home" parties, whereas, my generation was always looking for the empty house to have a party, if you know what I mean. I honestly believe kids today are much more likely to wear seat belts, designate a driver if there is going to be drinking, and keep in touch with their parents by text as to their plans and whereabouts.  This seems really smart to me.

Diversity is much more taken in stride today than 20 or 30 years ago.  Kids don't balk, act surprised or flinch when they are in the company of others who have disabilities, differences in sexual orientation, and certainly not racial and ethnic differences.  They have grown up not only tolerating diversity, but embracing it.  In my school, there were posters put up by the Gay Straight Alliance about marriage equality and bullying, and none of them were defaced or taken down. There are kids in wheelchairs, kids having behavioral meltdowns in the hallways, two girls or boys holding hands, and no one gives it a second look.  That's just cool if you ask me.

It goes without saying that kids today are way ahead of us in the technological and digital world.  They can figure out problems with electronics without ever thinking of looking for instructions or as we used to say, "reading the directions."  They can make movies and edit sound and play music and create art in ways that blow my generation out of the water. They are funny, too.  They make old words new again; they're constantly inventing new vocabulary. Scrape, swag, bromance and they be like you just got treated. 
They're so hip.

So, if anyone starts complaining about the next generation, you will now have some ammunition. They are just as smart, hip and cool as your generation and maybe more so. Until next time, YOLO!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Generational Angst

Is it every generation's job/fate to worry about the next generation’s ability to successfully carry on the world's business?  Or is it that I work with the most dis-ordered children and families day after day? Or perhaps, am I just getting old and cranky?

Because I am seriously worried.

Parents in the 1940's worried that radio and television would be the downfall of society. Parents in the 50's worried about Rock and Roll.  Parents in the 60's worried about long hair, drugs and bra burning feminists.  My parent's generation worried about the Animal House parties and drug overdoses.  Parents in the 80’s worried about anorexia and HIV. 

I worry that today’s kids can’t two shoot baskets at the Y without looking at their phone. The young ones lie on the floor playing games on their devices for more time than they play actively. For Cripe’s Sake, they have to have radio commercials telling them to “Go Outside and Play” an hour a day.  The overweight are now the majority in the elementary schools.

Most interaction now occurs through texting and social media. Does this generation even know how to communicate face to face? And don’t get me started on their writing or ability to speak without saying “like” every other word. 

Conflict resolution?  Huh, what’s that?  They say unthinkable things on Facebook and resort to profane rants, fists and violence when confrontation does occur.  I’ve noticed an increase in sports related fights and a decrease in true sportsmanship being displayed at the high school up to the professional level.  Self abuse (cutting and suicide attempts) is the go-to way to lessen one’s personal pain. How does that make any sense?

What is going to happen to this generation of Baby Mama, Baby Daddy, good-bye nuclear family?  Even the middle class is moving away from marriage all together and those who do are divorcing at an extraordinary rate. 

Granted, my exposure to youth is heavily weighted to the most troubled and emotionally disturbed young people, who have been exposed to unbelievable trauma and dysfunctional environments.  Their lives revolve around DCFS, foster care, jail, prison, court, probation. Their coping skills are nil and their role models weak or non-existent. Many kids today don’t know who or where their biological parents are.  

And yes, I am getting old. Each day I am greeted with new gray hairs, puffier eyes than the day before, hands that could pass for a great grandmother, and a cranky attitude to match.  I hang up my clothes after wearing them for a day. I have put Kleenex up my sleeve when I’ve been too lazy to go to the trash basket. The age spots and cellulite do not go away no matter how much I pay for skin products or how much I work out.  I have gone 2-3 days (4 once even !) without washing my hair, because it “feels like it’s drying out.”  That’s when I catch that old people smell on myself.  So yes, I have definitely crossed over into the physical and mental make-up of an old person.

Whether I am in the wrong profession, moving into the wrong mindset with age, or simply carrying out my fate, I definitely have concerns.  I struggle with these issues on a daily basis.  Still, there are days when my faith is restored, and you can look forward to that in my next blog. I have not gone completely to the dark side. Maybe I just need a vacation.





Monday, January 20, 2014

Parenting the Young Adult

When I was a young adult, I could always count on my parents to be there when I had a question or problem: how do you hard boil an egg? how do you change a flat tire? what is an escrow account? how do you get wine out of the carpet? how much should I contribute to my 401k? what should I do, Adam ate a tube of lipstick? My dad was there when I bought my first car and my mom mentored me in preparing my first Thanksgiving turkey.

Now it's my turn to help my boys successfully transition to adulthood, now known as "launching."  It's a fine line to tread of being proactive, also known as lecturing and letting them learn from their mistakes.

Recently, Eli decided to cancel his overdraft protection at the bank because they were charging $60 a pop. His contention was that now the bank wouldn't  allow any purchases when he didn't have money in his account. I tried to explain that this wasn't going to prevent him from overdrawing his account, and someone could still come after him with fees, it just might be CVS or Outback.  The lecture went on for some time, on the importance of tracking all expenditures to ensure this doesn't happen.  Of course, with his generation they don't write checks, so the likelihood of overdraft is reduced but as I explained there are still some small businesses that don't process their debits immediately, which could put him in the position of overdrawing his account if he is not careful.

I have been providing Eli with recipes and cooking lessons in preparation for cooking in his apartment this year, only to hear that he cooks Hamburger Helper, ramen noodles and rice and vegetables exclusively.  I don't know why it drives me crazy that he and his roommates have a pet turtle, am I worried it might die over Winter break because they failed to get someone to look after it?  And it was all I could do when visiting not to bag up the overflowing garbage can and carry it to the dumpster.

Pat and I did win one war with Eli in December when he casually decided to leave Macomb to go back to Normal in a blizzard, or as close as we come to a blizzard in these parts. He had a commitment to play trumpet at graduation the next morning and it didn't help my fury that he came home the day before to see the midnight showing of "The Hobbitt" and that he waited all day when the weather was fine, to leave at dark just as the storm hit. I do remember a few harrowing drives back to Drake in white out conditions which probably gave me the resolve to put my foot down regardless of the consequences with his music professors. Actually, the truth is I had to get Pat to back me up and resolutely bar him from leaving. He moped around all night, but was over it in 24 hours.

Why is this focusing so much on Eli? Adam rarely asked a question or let his guard down enough to show vulnerability or a need to communicate.  Cal is still home and not spreading his wings too much yet. So, it falls to Eli to be the guinea pig of our loosening parental influence.  I think he will be all right, especially if I can learn to let go and allow him to learn from own his mistakes.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Minivans

My parents are test driving a 2012 Toyota Sienna van.  They were positively beaming when they pulled up to show us.  Thrilled with the trade in offer on their banged up DodgehatefulkeyedCaravan.  Dad just turned 82 and has been pretty home bound;  Macomb bound at least (unless dinner is involved).  I was commenting on the new car smell and how once you drive, you gotta buy.  He said, "I'm just so happy. I haven't been this happy in a long time."  So it's a pretty much done deal, and I'm happy for them.

I am off to finish the disappointing Swedish 'thriller' "The Andalucian Friend."  It is NO dragoon tattoo, let me tell you. Not sure how I even got to page 400.  Bit by bit, as there are way too many characters (undesirables), it's confusing, and just plain boring.  Entertainment Weekly really got this one Wrong.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day

Yesterday was a really nice day. We had a little down time with the boys and Cal was so funny.  He was singing out random songs generally acting goofy. That's kind of what happens when a sports season ends. He played his last Legion baseball game Friday, and he will never play in Macomb again at the high school field.  He can't wait to get out of Macomb and on our little getaway to Western NY next week.

Then Marissa came over and it always takes awhile to get our groove on, but eventually we did after she was 'bored' with the board game I bought at a yard sale. She was a little lukewarm on the picture treasure hunt I made her, and didn't especially like the sunglasses I picked out for her. She liked yellow but I liked pink on her.  I filled up water balloons, as I did last time we were together and they were busting as soon as we carefully set them on the spikey, hard grass.  We played Sorry, had dinner and sang a few Karaoke songs.  She prefers crap, dare I say, from something called "Victorious," a Nickolodean show and Selena Gomez??  I prefer Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, even Lady Gaga to that.

That evening I spent with some girlfriends who always crack me up.  We played some Loaded Questions and I have the ability to fake people out.  Apparently, my inner self doesn't exactly match my outer self, and the game brings that up quite well.  I like a shock factor, too. I was out late (11:00) and slept great in clean sheets.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Eli's

Note to Dad (Richard): the following is NOT for publication in the Family News.

I have to tell one on Eli now.  He asked to go grocery shopping with me this week, so he could "learn from the sensei." He's getting his own apartment next year and that means supplying the food for himself.  I guess I forgot how much I hate shopping with others, especially for groceries.  So, off we went Friday morning.  As soon as we got in the store, I was feeling very testy, for whatever reason.  A lady who was ordering too much pastrami was really pissing me off, and then she and her daughter were clogging up every aisle I went down with their bodies and shopping cart.  I tried to skip an aisle to get ahead of her, but she kept getting in my way.  Finally, the following exchange came:
Eli: How can you live like this?
Me: You mean all cranky and bitchy?
Eli: Yeah, and you let some random person ruin your shopping experience.

I guess all Eli learned from the sensei was never to go shopping with the Sensei.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sons

I just wanted to say this: I haven't talked to Adam in a couple of weeks.  But it was so nice, I saw him four times in less than two months.  He came home for Mother's Day which was really sweet.  He didn't get to the mall (his lament) before he came, so when I went down to Springfield to see him over Memorial Day, he took me to the mall to get supplied with tea from Teavana, the elegant tea store.  Then he took me out to eat at the Chesapeake (very nice restaurant) and insisted on paying.  We were supposed to grill out, but the weather was pretty ugly.  June 11 he came home for his birthday, and he also made an appearance July 1-2 when Betsy and Chris were here.  Don't think we have had this much visits in- ever.  While none of my kids are particularly a-ttached, Adam is the most detached so it has made me happy to have this contact with him.

Okay, so Cal cracked me up yesterday.  He was hanging around and took an unposed picture of me.  See below.  He goes, "This isn't bad.  Look at your luscious hair!"

And Happy 82nd Birthday to my dear Dad.