The first and last generation to listen??

The other day I watched a heartwarming video about kids that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. It started out with a cute little blip about surviving bike rides without helmets and drinking water out of hoses. Then it ended with a comment that went something like this…we were the last generation to listen to our parents and the first generation to listen to our children.

Wait…What??

Everything before that last statement was obvious. Yes, we rode bikes without helmets and drank water out of a hose…but the last statement really made me think. Could it be true??

Remember growing up in the 70’s and 80’s (if you did)? Remember when kids sporting events had parent night? Think about it. Why would they do that? On those nights parents would attend their childrens games.

Today’s parents sometimes even go to practices! That never would’ve happened in the 70’s or 80’s.

My younger brothers rode their bikes 10 miles one way into town with a group of friends for Little League practices and games when they were in grade school (without helmets…gasp…). That was not an uncommon practice.

Are we an over involved generation of parents? It the pendulum swinging back the other way from having under involved parents?

Or is it just easier to be over involved? Our kids can text us with any little problem that they have during the school day. I can fix that for you. My son texted me this week that he had a flat tire. Do you need me to come help? I never bothered my parents during the school day unless I had to call home sick. If my car broke down, hopefully I had a flashlight with me or the stranger answered the door when I knocked. We had to solve most of our problems by ourselves. 

I can tell where my teens are by pushing a button on my phone. I can get instant notifications about their grades. I can peer directly into their social media world. I can’t think of another time in history when there has been such a big gap between generations.

It is hard to put restrictions on our children’s technology when they know more about it than we do.

But were we the last generation to listen to our parents? I honestly don’t think that has changed much. Teens today get such a bad rap. How would you like someone in your business all day long? I think most teens listen just fine.

Although I do think parents have less control over their kids. Parents are looked down upon for disciplining their children, yet are also looked down upon when their kids are acting up. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

I simply think that most kids are spoiled because we give give give way too much. We care too much. We fix things too much. We won’t let them work out their own problems because we know about them as they are happening and troubleshoot them with our kids.

Are we the first generation that listens to our children? Probably. My mother was raised to be seen and not heard. She tried to break that pattern with us. We did talk a lot, but I couldn’t imagine telling her half the stuff my kids tell me.

I have had very some very open and non-judgmental conversations with my older kids about some difficult topics such as sex, drugs, drinking…you name it. Guess what? Sometimes I don’t like what I hear. But I think it is important to keep the lines of communication open and offer them guidance.

I haven’t had as many conversations with my youngest yet. Although Arabella is 14, she hasn’t started dating or even tried drugs or drinking except for the small glass of champagne I gave her recently when we were celebrating something big.

It is never too early to talk. Last year Arabella had a friend that was very depressed after coming out of the closet with a few close friends. She is still afraid to tell her parents. I found out about it before her parents did because my daughter was worried about her friend and needed someone to talk to. Also, my daughter had another friend that tried to kill herself this week. These kids are only in their early teens.

Does talking to your kids prevent bad things from happening? Does it stop them from going down the wrong path? Does it prevent you from getting a phone call that you would never want to get? Probably not, but at least they know that I will always be here if they need to talk. It’s the best I can do to help them through it.

 

 

 

 

Paul’s journey, part 5

Despite not having the best (or even good) grades, Paul went off to college after high school. He went because a friend was going and it seemed like a cool thing to do.

Once he got to college, something strange happened to Paul. He became popular. People liked him. He had a lot of friends. He somehow managed to escape the stigma of childhood and started a new life for himself far away from home. He joined a fraternity, participated in hazing, and became part of the wildlife on campus.

Here are few rescue squad stories…

1) There was a wild party at the frat house one night. The house was jam packed with people everywhere. Paul decided to sneak out the back door to run to the bathroom. When he came back, the room was empty and the phone was ringing. He felt like he was in the twilight zone. He answered the phone to find out it was 911 calling about a shooting. What shooting? Apparently there was a man in the front yard with a hole in his cheek from a botched suicide attempt. After the rescue squad arrived, Paul headed down to his room. He found hundreds of under age party goers squeezed into every nook and cranny who thought the party was getting busted.

2) One night a group of college students thought it would be a great idea to take an old canoe sledding down a hill in the icy snow. It was fun at first. Kids piled in and went at break neck speed down the hill. The last group (for obvious reasons) hit a tree on the way down. They flew out of the canoe. One girl had a broken pelvis, another needed plastic surgery on her face. The night ended with another call to the rescue squad.

 

Hanging out with friends and partying meant the world to Paul during his college years.

There was a dark side to this lifestyle…(besides the previously mentioned harebrained ideas).

His first long term girlfriend broke up with him.

His best friend at home became a quadriplegic. Paul wasn’t there that night the rescue squad was called. His friend Dwayne was camping and partying with friends. Now Dwayne would do anything for a dare, especially if he was drinking. Someone dared him to dive off a dock into shallow water. He broke his neck and almost died that night. There was a long grueling recovery. He never walked again and died young.

He flunked out of college. Paul was forced to take a semester off. People thought he was stupid again. He went back home and worked at the cheese factory on the production line with his mother. It was an awful experience, but it proved to be the spark that he needed to get his life back in order and buckle down.

 

 

 

Back to the past

Over Thanksgiving we played the game Loaded Questions. It is a great group get to know each other kind of game. Perfect Christmas gift idea. You’re welcome!

The main object of the game is to ask a question in a category and try to guess who wrote what response. Every player gets a chance to be a judge.

When I was a judge, I asked the question…If you could live in a past time period, when would it be?? Paul said it was taking him awhile to write a response because he was having a hard time spelling his answer..

Here were the answers:

1960’s

1970’s

1970’s

1980’s

1980’s

The Renaissance period (obviously Paul’s answer)

An hour ago so I wouldn’t have to play this lame game (obviously my son)

I found the answers interesting. My mom and Darryl wanted to go back to their teenage/young adult years…but what I really found interesting was that 3 out of 4 teens wanted to live in the time period that I grew up in…I was shocked..

But, but, but, but…there was no internet back then.

The teens said that they didn’t care.

I asked my daughter Angel about it later…Why did you pick that you wanted to live in the time I grew up in??

She had two answers. First, everything today is fake. She said that she knows of an ultra thin uTuber that spent hours posing with an ice cream cone that she never ate. She said that although she is a normal weight that it made her feel fat. Also, people only post good things about their life…which makes her feel like her life is boring or that she is not happy enough. (At this point, I should’ve shared with her about all of the personal posts here on WP but I missed the opportunity to tell her that other people’s lives do suck sometimes).

While we were in conversation, she took my picture with her a couple of times for snapchat. People were sending selfies back with little comments on it. She said I should join. Why would I want to send pictures of myself back and forth to people all day?? I don’t understand.

Second, my daughter said that all of her social contacts are on her phone. I guess that means instead of hanging out with friends in person, they send pictures back and forth all day or play games. She said that putting her phone away for a short time would mean that her social interaction is gone. She talked about a challenge at college that included giving up a phone for one day. Teens become a slave to their phones. Funny thing is…I never see them use their phone as a phone.

This is what it was like growing up in the 80’s…

 

The weekends always held a sense of adventure. After watching the Saturday morning cartoons, the neighborhood kids would ride around on bikes without helmets. Sometimes our chains would fall off or we would fall off our bike miles from home. We had to work together as a team to figure out how to fix problems. No one ever knew where we were.

I really loved the monthly trips into town to go to the library. Sometimes I could read a book a day. I would drool over the new releases that could only be rented for a few days. I couldn’t wait until that book was out on the shelves. I always checked the return pile for coveted books. I loved the silence and the smell of musty old books. Sadly, I haven’t been to a library in years.

It was exciting to hear a new song on the radio. I would listen for hours just to get the chance to pop a cassette tape in and record the song. Of course, I rarely got the whole song on tape. I had a weekly date with America’s Top 40. The weekly countdown was big excitement.

In the evenings, we would go on walks to visit with our grandparents or great aunt and uncle. I think I miss this the most…just walking in as if expected…unannounced visits. People just would stop in and talk for hours. People would drop whatever they were doing and listen. There was never a ‘let me check my schedule’.

We loved playing outside making forts out of wood or in the snow. We were never in a hurry. I loved going to the post office to see if I got a letter in the mail. We would pretend to ‘smoke’ candy cigarettes. We played in the sprinkler and drank water out of the hose. We ate raw cookie dough and ate homemade meals every night. We only had our picture taken on special events. I loved the big poofy hair and the big boxy cars.

We had a computer at home that I learned how to make my name scroll across the screen. It was exciting! Sometimes I would even change the color of my name. I loved to play Donkey Kong. We had an Atari and a VCR. I had a Michael Jackson record player from when he was still black. I spent hours playing with Barbie and Ken. I could spend hours watching a slinky go down the steps. I loved the game of Life. We never heard bad world news, unless things were really bad the adults didn’t tell us.

The strange thing is, although you might say that there was nothing to do, I can’t remember ever being bored.

I would challenge the young folks to spend a weekend without their phone to see what kind of adventures are out there..

What were your favorite memories growing up in pre internet era??

 

 

 

 

Parenting in a different language

I have been following quite a few parenting posts lately and wanted to share my thoughts..

Imagine if your child was born speaking a different language. Perhaps you would feel frustrated that you didn’t understand. In fact, the child you should be teaching ended up teaching you. They made you feel like a complete idiot that you don’t understand. When you do learn a few words, your pronunciation is all wrong.

When I was graduating from college, a new technology came out called the internet. Along with it came something called email. I really didn’t know how to use it, but it really didn’t matter. I would be graduating soon. Maybe it was a fad. I used articles I found online to write papers, but there really wasn’t a way to document the sources. No one really knew how.

This year I asked my kids what a gif was. I showed my husband how to take a selfie.

We get criticized as parents for everything we do. There is no guidance. No one knows. How much time should we allow our children to spend online?? Should there be a limit or will they end up being behind?

The people older than us have no advice to give. We never had to deal with this, they say.

So we stumble along. We have our children teach us how to set up parental controls that they can get around.

We should be watching everything they do online…but we are still living in the 1980’s where we would be mortified if our parents listened in to every phone conversation. Is it really necessary to invade their privacy?

They is a good ten year gap of us parents out there that have never grown up with the internet having to parent children that have never lived without the internet. It is incredibly difficult.

Most of my closest friends aren’t even on Facebook.

I tried to have a conversation with my daughter last night about sexting. Seriously mom, I learned about that in grade school. You are so out of touch.

I thought my parents were out of touch because they didn’t know anything about MTV.

I consider myself having average computer literacy for my age. I can’t keep up.

How am I supposed to be fluent in a language that I don’t speak with my native tongue?

I have hope that the next generation of parents will be so much better than we are. We are doing the best we can, yet are failing miserably. The gap is too wide to cross. We are judged harshly by others that don’t understand our struggle.

Thankfully the next generation of parents will be able to speak the same language.

Halloween lore

To be honest, I’ve always had mixed thoughts about Halloween.

Growing up, my mom had conflicting feelings too.

We lived outside of a small town of around 200 people. My mom was big into walking. So almost every year, we walked into town on Halloween with flashlights if it wasn’t too cold out.

We would always stop at Aunt Grace’s house. Being a banker, she was always practical minded and handed out money to the kids. She would give us a roll of nickels or dimes. I’m not sure if she handed out the whole roll to the other kids.

My grandma always had 3 white sheet ghosts hanging from the big tree in front of her house. She liked to wear funny shirts like the one that said ‘I’ve got bats in my belfry’. She always had tons of candy. Grandma was always happy and smiled greeting the children in costumes. Those are the memories that I am most fond of.

At times, I walked around the neighborhood with older kids. I remember stopping at an old man’s house. He was probably in his 80’s Although in my young mind, he could’ve been 40. He handed us apples as a treat. APPLES!! We walked halfway down the block and smashed them. The bigger kids said that there could be razor blades in them. I still feel bad that the old man might have walked down the road and seen his wrecked apples. It was the 1980’s and in those days we heard stories about the Halloween candy being tampered with in some way.

I also heard stories of black cats being sacrificed and made sure my outdoor cats were locked up somewhere safe for the night. It seemed like a scary night to a worried child. Perhaps it was the one day that evil was allowed to seep into the world because it was invited in.

In the later years, my mom felt conflicted about the holiday after some friends kept their whole family hidden in the basement with their lights off. They thought that partaking in Halloween was akin to devil worship and would land them a prime spot in hell. Halloween has been associated with people doing evil things. I understand how people wouldn’t want their children involved in a holiday that celebrates evil.

When I had children of my own, I felt a little conflicted about the holiday too.

Don’t get me wrong…I love scary movies. I love wearing costumes and pretending to be someone else (alas my love for community theater). As a child I was obsessed with the Salem witch trials and read every book on it the library had. I abhor having lights on in the house. I am a big fan of black cats and the color black in general. I have a healthy fondness for candy.

Over the years we attended various churches…Some were of the opinion that Halloween was of the devil and the only way it should be celebrated is by handing out Christian literature to the children that come to their door…to children dressing up in Halloween costumes for Sunday service…

Who is right? How is a Christian supposed to act?

I can understand every viewpoint. What is wrong with not celebrating? Nothing…less money for the dentists..What is wrong with dressing up as an evil character?? Are you celebrating evil? Are you doing evil? What is your motive?? What is your intent? I personally don’t know anyone that spent the day drinking blood…or sacrificing animals despite the witch lore.

Paul and I decided that we would celebrate Halloween but only allow our young children to dress up in costumes that celebrated goodness. Over the years we had Tinkerbell, an angel, a cow, a mermaid, a cheerleader…I miss those days.

 

 

 

Modern parenting

I remember growing up in the 1980’s. As teenagers, our parents thought we were the worst of all generations before us. They did not understand our music, rock ‘n roll and hair bands. Talking about hair, they did not like the way we dressed. Our hair was too poofy our makeup too wild. We spent countless hours at the mall trying to be material girls. We wasted gobs of time trying to get to the next level in Pong, Space Invaders, and Frogger on our Atari’s. We traded in our records for a large boom box with a tape deck. We dubbed tapes off of other friends tapes off of other friends tapes instead of listening to what our parents listened to on the record player or radio in the living room. Kids were rebellious, times were changing, and parenthood was hard.

As a parent of teenagers, I look back and wish times were a little simpler. We have less control and no guidelines. How much computer time should we allow our teens to have? How do we enforce that? How do we implement parental controls when we need our teens to help set them up? How do we monitor what they are doing when they know more about computers than us? I think that this is probably one of the biggest generation technology parenting gaps that has ever been and probably will ever be. At least our children will know what to do with their children because they grew up with the internet. From experience they will know from their childhood all the things that we don’t know now.

How do we know what to do? How much computer time is too much? My teens now do their homework on their computers. Taking away their computers is like taking away their pencils and paper. Is it good for them to spend all the time that they can on computers so they are prepared to use them in future careers? It is extremely hard to be hypervigelent with our teens use of the Internet without sitting next to them the whole time they are on it. This also is hard when they are at the stage in life where they want to be independent more than anything. If we have no reason not to trust them should we treat them like they are untrustworthy??

I remember as a young child finding my dad’s girlie magazines and showing them to my friends. They were in our house. We don’t have that option of keeping it out of our house if we don’t want it there anymore. My oldest daughter was exposed to porn in middle school when our previous pastor’s daughter showed it to her on a computer in our own house. Who would have thought?

What about cell phones? Back in my day, we had to talk on a phone tethered by a cord on the wall. There was no privacy. Now teens can talk anywhere with complete privacy about anything they want. If they wanted to send or receive naked pictures of someone, it is a click away. Who would ever know?

Now as far as music goes, the options are limitless there as well. If I wanted to buy a parental advisory CD as a teen I would have to go to the music store and show them my id. Once again, anything can be downloaded or listened to and I wouldn’t even know. How do you become proactive in monitoring that?

What about school shootings and violence? Back in my time there were a few kids that would call in bomb threats when they wanted the day off. I assume that doesn’t happen all that much anymore with caller id. Instead there are school shootings. Do you know how scary it is to send your child off to school after something like that happens?? Yesterday I received a letter from the principal of my children’s high school stating that there was an incident where a student was talking about bringing a gun to school. The authorities were called into the school to investigate. So, I sit here and worry. Worry about the things I can’t control. I wonder if I am doing a good job as a parent. Is anyone really? I don’t know what the hell I am doing parenting the modern teen. Does anyone? We are dealing with issues that our experienced parents wouldn’t even be able to give us advice about. 

On the flip side, it is a great time to be a parent. We have webmd for every bump, scratch, and sniffle. There are online support groups for any parenting issue. There is countless free advice for practically any parenting problem from getting stains out of clothes, potty training, to extra math tutorials at the tips of our fingers. Maybe it would have helped my parents raise us when they had 4 teens in the house at the same time. My brother could’ve gotten diagnosed with autism earlier, maybe would have had early intervention therapy. My mom could’ve joined online support groups and wouldn’t have had to parent an autistic child totally alone finding out what worked through trial and error.  

Ah, these are the best of times and worst of times for parenting. I am doing the best I can. 

Let’s go back to the future

Today is the future day that Marty McFly time traveled to in the 1985 movie Back to the Future. I wonder if his character would be pleased to see how the future really turned out if he traveled here from 1985 today. We do have some pretty cool inventions since then like the cell phone, ipads, kindles, the internet, etc. Technology few of us thought would be possible back then. I can liken it to what it would be like going back hundreds of years and telling people about electricity or indoor plumbing. It would be hard to imagine. We still don’t fly around in cars, but can see the possibility of self driving cars for the future. Will we be telling our great-grandchildren about how we had to get a driver’s license someday? Maybe it will provide a solution to the problem of drunk driving.

I don’t think that Marty would like our hair and clothing today. Clothing and makeup do not reflect a neon geometrical style anymore and our hair is ho hum boring. If you were a teen in the 80’s, you would know what I mean. Big hair was fun! While the movie was right on with a few predictions, quite a few were way off. Where were you in 1985? Could you have predicted the future of the world much less the future of your own life? Were you even born? In 1985, I was younger than my youngest child is right now. My future life was a mystery. Who would I marry? Would I have children? What kind of career would I have?

The last 30 years have been a winding road. Most of it reflecting consequences, either good or bad, of the life that I have chosen. I became set in my beliefs over this time. I got married, had children, went to college, found hobbies, made and lost friends. Some things happened that I did not choose, this was also within the framework of who I would become.

What will happen over the next 30 years? My husband wants us to start planning for retirement. The next 30 years scare me. There are too many unknowns. I don’t want to think about getting old and declining physically and/or intellectually. I think I will probably have grandchildren. I will most likely enter into retirement. I will possibly face the loss of my spouse and have to face the possibility that I may not be a part of this future in 30 years. Sometimes I want to focus on the past instead, it is certain and known. But focusing on the past also makes me unsettled. Sometimes the good old days were not always good.

I try to focus on the here and now. I want to make myself the best person that I can be in the present so I can be a gift to those around me today and tomorrow. I am thankful to have all of you in my life as I am living it.

Where were you in 1985?