Friday, March 12, 2010

"When I Was Your Age..."

I try not to say that very often, but I find myself doing so on a regular basis lately. I’m not sure why I bother because even my oldest son Devin, who is 6, can’t fathom the thought that I was EVER his age, or anything other than “old”. As he’s learning about history he asks me for first hand accounts on each event. Having him insist that I had some hand in the discovery of America can be frustrating. My children also have trouble understanding that I wasn’t always a Mommy. I heard Devin explain to his younger brother once that they were both in my belly when I was little. When I was “ready” I told Devin to come out, and then called Connor out two years later. I’m not prepared to explain the actual process to either of them yet, nor suggest that their father had a hand in “calling them out”. The fact of the matter is I WAS once a child. Watching them grow up often makes me think back to my own childhood. They are growing up in such a different time than I did. This is the reason behind the constant repeating of the phrase “When I was your age”…..

The access to information for my children’s generation is instantaneous. Gone are the days of wondering things like “what is the name of that song?”…Let’s face it; there was a time when a simple question like that could haunt you. It could fester in your mind for days, or even weeks, before you mentioned it to someone that could remember the name and relieve you from the agony. Now, you can “Google it” and find the name, artist, and the year it was recorded. Even the way they listen to music is different. They have Ipods and CD players. Back in my day it was the good old cassette player. Our “portable” devices where “boom boxes” that weighed 30 lbs. To be fair, we did also have smaller hand held cassette players, but they were not very discreet considering the head phones looked like ear muffs. If I wanted to listen to a particular song I could pop in my cassette and pray that I had listened to that song recently. Otherwise, I got to play an hour long game of rewind, stop, play… rewind, stop, play… oops I passed it…fast forward, stop, play…is this the song I wanted? Oh forget it! Not my kids. Find the song on your handy little touch screen, click on it, hear it. These devices hold thousands of songs by various artists. A cassette held a maximum of twelve songs by one artist, unless of course someone had performed the tedious task of making a “mix tape” for you. My favorites were the ones that had a DJ talking over the first few seconds of the songs because they were recorded directly from the radio. We were such rebels. The music has changed drastically also. I don’t remember hearing songs that contained language that I needed to be sheltered from. I am all for freedom of speech, and tend to resist censorship, however as a parent it has become very difficult. Having my kids listen to my Ipod and scream the lyrics of “Crazy Bitch” may have something to do with that….

There was also a time when television shows had to be viewed when they were actually airing (crazy, I know). My kids have the ability to watch any show they want, whenever they want. They can also rewind and pause live TV. They drive me crazy when they pause commercials to come and get me (usually from the bathroom) so I will know which toy to put on their list for Santa. When I was a child I could not wait for Saturday mornings because I could watch cartoons. My kids watch cartoons whenever they feel like it. If it isn’t something they have recorded with the DVR, they can use features such as “On Demand” to locate the show and watch it. I’ve come to dislike that feature; don’t get me wrong it is very convenient, it may just be in the name. I hate feeling like my kids are “demanding” anything.

I’m not exactly sure at what point in my life the internet became mainstream, but I do recall that when it did, it was certainly not accessed as quickly as it is today. “High Speed Internet” deserves its title since dial up connection was painfully slow. While trying to research something online with dial up I could have started logging on, gone to the library, found the information that I needed, came back, had a snack, and would still be waiting for the connection to be completed. Now I wouldn’t even need my computer to access that same information. I could get it through my cell phone. Cell phones were once the size of a small shoe box, and I didn’t know many people that owned one growing up. EVERYONE has a cell phone now, including many children. I’m not sure when I will be ready to get them for my children. Right now it’s due to the fact that anything costing more than $20 tends to end up being destroyed in a very short period of time. It’s very frustrating because I bet I could find toys that they got in a kids meal from Burger King a year ago that are in pristine condition. I’m also leery to create additional people in the world that use cell phones as their only form of communication. Texting has become the new form of “talking”. I often find myself stuck in the back and forth of a text conversation thinking “why don’t I just call them?” Then there are the people who go through life, coming face to face with others throughout the day, yet they can’t hang up the phone and stop their conversation with someone else. I find myself listening to one sided conversations everywhere. If your going to talk on the phone in the middle of a doctor’s office while everyone is sitting their listening, at least put the other person on speaker phone so we can hear both sides….

In this new technologically advanced generation I will be faced with the daunting task of raising children that will be capable of healthy human interactions outside of all this newfangled equipment. I will have to teach them basic things like eye contact when speaking to someone, or at least the courtesy of turning off all the other distractions when someone addresses them. It is important that they know about the “reply all” button on email and the need to double check the recipients of emails prior to sending them (this is something I’ve had to learn the hard way). I hope to help them understand that they shouldn’t “say” something in a text or email message that they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. When they are older I may also have to teach them the dangers of “drunk texting”. In addition, it is going to be very difficult to get them to grasp the concept of having patience. They have never had to wait for anything in their lives. I have always wondered who has the ability to name generations. I’m not even sure which generation I would be considered from. I would strongly suggest to whatever entity has this ability that they name my children’s the “Instant Gratification Generation”.

1 comment:

Patriciaj1002 said...

That post sort of made me sad in a way. Really, life has become so fast and reading that, eveything is instant gradification. Not sure if anyone else feels this way, but I truly love the excitement of anticipation of an event. I just feel like the "wanting" is an important element in excitement, joy, and satisfaction. When we work hard for something, we get that feeling. With the "when I was a kid", I can go even further back. Now in my adult years I look back on them with such fond memories. When we had to use our imagination to play. Lots of role playing, hey, get a stick and act like it's a microphone or make a bow and arrow out of it, or perhaps poke someones eye out with it. Play jump rope or hopscotch, the pogo stick, jacks, cards, ride your bike anywhere. We went outdoors and played for hours until the street lights came on. Children in today's society do not have that freedom. Who would let a child out to play until the street lights came on today? You could be abducted or killed, or raped, or whatever other ugly thing that is out there. We got to enjoy nature and our surroundings in such a different way then today. Having said that though, part of me wonders if the world will change so much by the time they are older that they will actually be saying the same thing I am right now. Perhaps it's our own reality at the time. Where the times are. The good ole days always stay the good old days. As my statement of the "good ole days", my mom could probably say the same thing about her life and so on and so on. I do have that pet peeve of people texting. I truly hate it when they are stuck to their phones like glue and it interrupts normal interaction. Call me, I'd rather talk any day. And then on the flip side of that, we are much more connected and know where our children are and what we are doing. Perhaps all that goes along with the world evolving. So it goes, each generation has another story to tell, like my grandfather walking a mile to school and back uphill. It's all just the times we live in.