I was talking with some mothers I hadn’t seen in ages, due to the pandemic and because none of us live in the same state. We were enjoying the pleasures of in person engagement while sitting together at an open-air food court. Of course, we talked a lot about our teen age kids. I’ve known one of these women since our kids bonded in preschool, we’ve done this journey together.
As we were catching up, I was having a bit of that what is wrong with kids today feeling. I am never sure if this is because kids have changed or because I am older and in the stage of life where I would feel this no matter what kids were doing. It’s just that at some point in life you start to be old enough that young people freak you out. It’s really hard to know if it’s your fault or their fault.
I am telling myself that it is my fault and not to indulge this impulse. I see it all around me and I don’t like it. I think it’s the first slip on the downward slope to curmudgeonville. For the love of all that’s good in the world, don’t let me end up there! I’d rather die young. Too late for that but you get what I am saying.
Watching my child become an adult feels so intense, like the most challenging experience of my life. But is it? Or does everything feel like that because everything is always in the now and the now always feels more intense than the future or the past?
I suspect the later. It’s all intense and challenging all the time. It was intense and challenging when I was young. It’s intense and challenging now. I think worrying about young people being different than they used to be is wrong. The difference in perception is more attributable to different developmental stages then different cultural moments. We freaked our parents out and now it’s our turn to be freaked.
But being freaked out is a choice, it’s a reaction we could adjust. I am mostly freaked out because I want to know my kid will be ok like I am ok. I want to sort of bypass all the decades of learning from experience and know my kid will be where I am at. But that makes no sense. Do I want my kid to miss all that interesting stuff just so they can be worrying about their kids?
Worrying about other people is just a way to take the heat off of ourselves. Maybe I wouldn’t be so scared if everyone else was perfect. But I am the only thing I have control over and so I am going to assume I am the problem in the question that is the title of this essay. I am going to look for the good. There is plenty there.
What I have noticed is my kid is better when I am better. That could translate to, the young people are better when the older people are better. So, get your act together older people. The young people need us!