Is It the Young People or Is It Me?

Is It the Young People or Is It Me?

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!

I Lost It Over Slippers

I Lost It Over Slippers

It’s humiliating and humbling. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a house shoe. I ruined our lovely lunch (we even had special bread!) because I wanted everyone’s feet to be warm and I was thwarted. Can you feel me? I wanted something nice for everybody, I had given up several hours of time to make it happen. And like a kitten undoing the rolled-up yarn with a single playful swipe, my child inquired, are they leather? Here’s the story.

It starts with husband. A few weeks ago, he tells me he’s really cold while wearing a thin cotton shirt, a thin cotton sweater and bare feet. Oh my goodness, how can you re-grout the bathroom and still have so few survival skills? To be fair, he has bad feet and hates anything binding, like socks. So, it’s a challenge. He has never in our time together, had winter house shoes. I feel like this could be a game changer for him.

My house shoes came from payless. They cost about $12 a decade ago. Every year I tell myself, get a new pair! The faux shearling that used to invite the foot into a sleeve of luxury now looks like dryer lint if dryer lint was hard and mean rather than soft and wimpy. But the soles of the slippers are doing great. There are going to be here when the sun supernovas.

A few years ago I did order an adorable replacement. Something woolen with little decorative flourishes sewn on. Something that would make you smile every time you put them on. But they had a small lip at the back of the heel and my foot was just a fraction too long. Oh brother! Are you kidding me! Disappointment is a hard emotion. An excess of smoking badness and nowhere to set it down like holding a hot skillet with a thin towel in a crowded kitchen. I didn’t have the stamina to remedy. I was too defeated. Husband handled the Zappos return and I retreated back to my stale but monogamous house shoe marriage.

I can’t remember my child’s house shoe history, but he doesn’t have any now. He mostly wears a pair of off-white fuzzy socks and they look pretty bad on the bottoms because Los Angeles is a filthy place and unless you want to sweep and mop every day, your socks are going to suffer.

With that, I’ve laid out the need. Are you rooting for us to get house shoes?

Like most of us, I am on Instagram a lot. Their AI has figured out that I will click on ads for bras and for slippers. So many bras and slippers and I just keep “saving” them. So, I week ago I open up my Instagram saved folder, locate these slipper sellers and start researching. I get it all figured out and then promptly do nothing because you get a pat on the back for figuring it out, right? But you don’t have to pull the trigger and spend actual money.

A week later and this task is my final project for the long Thanksgiving weekend. I am not bringing this to-do item into December. So, I go to order husband’s house shoe, he is getting a very high-end Nordic wool slipper that does all the things because he has the worst feet. Nope. Wrong! All sold out! We are repossessing that pat on the back; your research was for naught. You waited too long and you have to start over. I can feel the skillet of disappointment heating up!

An hour later and he is getting the cheapest slippers, but they are WIDE! Which he said was imperative. Now for me and son. I was going to order us some really stylish, vegan shoes from Australia, but two issues are upsetting me. And honestly, now that I am looking at this under a microscope, I can see that these issues are probably why I didn’t order right away. The shoes have a lip on the heel and no free returns. I cannot deal with returns. We need to order from Zappos. I find one in the exact uninteresting style of my old payless shoe. I tell son to pick his color and then I chose the other color for me. Done! Ha! Take that stupid to-do list!

Son and I then walk to the super fancy grocery store a block away and celebrate by getting some top shelf rosemary sourdough bread for our sandwiches. This is rare and fun. We are eating our sandwiches when son, who is having avocado rather than leftover Thanksgiving turkey, says: Are those house shoes you bought leather? What do you think friends? Is suede leather? The metaphorical skillet heats through the metaphorical thin towel in un-metaphorical seconds. I lose my shit. I make some scary howling noises then proceed to place my head in my hands and sulk in a big way. Would anyone like a little rancid butter for their rosemary sourdough?

What was happening for me is that the to-do item was now uncrossed and back on the list, return non vegan suede slippers to Zappos, my least favorite thing! Not only had I not accomplished my goal, I had more work to do. The whole point was to move into the work week light as feather chore-wise. It felt intolerable.

Both son and husband were perplexed but neither of them had spent their holiday time online, researching house shoes.

Anyway, no matter how I felt, I knew I was behaving poorly and had to pull it together. We were able to cancel his order. Amazing son provided a link to an affordable vegan alternative within the half hour. Ok. The to-do item is crossed off. Everything’s fine.

I know I live with a kraken. But I am trying. I am trying to make life nice; I am trying to get things done. I am trying to be good person. Life is hard. Obviously, this isn’t even in the realm of actual hardship. But life is comprised of many small moments and our emotional equipment is the same for both the small and large, the hard and the petty. So, though I acted badly, it was just for a few minutes. I did apologize. We are getting slippers. Onto the next thing.