Buzz Words

2378726643_21de9385ccI’ve got a bee in my bonnet and it’s buzzing around, whining in my ear.  Buzz, buzz, buzz.

It all started with a viral Huffington Post piece about Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy.  Several things happened simultaneously in my brain as I read the article.

I thought, “Yes, this is true!!”.

I thought, “Oh My God, this is why I find myself cringing on the sofa when I watch Girls“.

I thought, “Hmm.. I am somewhat jealous of this generation’s capacity for believing in themselves and their abilities so strongly and steadfastly that they will humiliate themselves on national television auditioning for American Idol under the mistaken impression that they have talent.  But by God, they believe it and no one can tell them any different!”; and

I thought, “How do I make sure my own kids aren’t raised with the appalling sense of entitlement, specialness and, as they call it on the mommy boards, ‘snowflake syndrome’ which seems to be so culturally pervasive?  The very stuff that is causing a whole generation apparent unhappiness?

Granted, that’s a lot of simultaneous thought for just one piece, but I’ve often written about what a loud and cacophonous place my brain can be.  My husband and I discussed the article ad nauseam.  I talked about it with friends, some of whom are a part of Generation Y themselves.  I mulled it over.  I tossed it back and forth like a salad in my head.  Like a train wreck, I couldn’t turn away from the notion.  I was fascinated and horrified, intrigued and appalled, grateful I’m part of Gen X, but also wishing I had some of the chutzpah that defines these young guns.  And it was there in the back of my mind, buzzing about, when I chaperoned a field trip for my son’s 4th grade class not long after.

In case anyone has forgotten, I am an adult.  My 9-year-old and his peers are not.  And while I like his friends, classmates and peers, I also expect the respect due to me as the functioning adult among a bunch of kids that still have trouble remembering to flush the toilet and not using their fingers when they are eating.  Let’s just say that after spending the day with nearly seventy nine and ten-year olds, I didn’t feel like there was a whole lotta respecting going on.  But there was a whole lotta entitlement.

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I left the school grounds that day mentally drafting a petition that the administration bring old school detention back into the mix.  Writing lines, clapping erasers, stuffing envelopes, sitting with your head down on the desk, good old-fashioned Breakfast Club detention.  I left thinking that many of these kids see no real difference between themselves and the adults who volunteered to get them out of class for the day.  I left thinking that many of them have an innate sense of fostered entitlement and very little respect for the authority that comes with adulthood.  Not all of them.  Probably not even most of them.  But regardless, I went on my angry way with the niggling sense that today’s children view adults more as large versions of themselves with ATM access rather than authority figures to be heeded.  And if Generation Y is defined by a sense of ‘specialness’, what of these kids we are raising now, these followers of Generation Z?  Are they a generation of mini sultans in training that expect a parental punkawallah at their beck and call?  And are we, as parents, fostering it?

Buzz, buzz, buzz.

I am not playing holier than thou.  I am worried about my own kids and the current culture of instant gratification and why should I if I don’t want to– I deserve better kind of thinking.  My husband and I, though socially liberal, are pretty strict parents.  I thought.  But now I wonder if we are strict enough.  My kids drive me nuts at times.  They fight over who is the pot and who is the kettle if I feed them idioms and clichés.  They compete in every regard, including but not limited to, whose socks pull up higher than the other’s (true story).  But deep down, under the “IT’S MY LEGO PIECE!” screaming matches and the need for 965,823 reminders to cough into their elbow, I’ve always maintained they are good kids.  They fight with each other, sometimes to the point of me threatening to find one of them another family, but they don’t argue or fight with other kids.  They may personify Schadenfreude with each other, may pass one another blithely if one is bleeding on a street corner, but they are sympathetic, generous and respectful to friends.  They may roll their eyes at me and need to be put back into their place when they get too big for their britches, but for the most part, they are respectful.  To their friends, to their teachers, to their parent’s friends and other adults whose path’s they cross.  I think.  I hope.

ladyinhammockwithpunkawallahBut are they respectful enough?  I am losing all perspective of what is normal and what is not.  I am clutching at straws.  I am even starting to regret not insisting on being addressed as Mrs. Last Name; a tradition that, until recently, I probably would have secretly made fun of.

I did not change my last name when my husband and I got married, so Mrs. My Last Name is, and will always be, my Mom.  I guess I could have insist on Ms. My Last Name, but explaining Ms. to kids is tiresome.  I had a hard enough time explaining to my future mother and father in law why I was keeping my name, I don’t need to explain my reasoning to a bunch of kids.  But questioning exactly how my toddler’s just-learning-how-to-talk-peers should address me was never a conscious decision, it just seemed to be the way the river was running and I went along for the ride.  Somewhere along the parenting trend continuum, parents went from being addressed as Mrs. Last Name to Hey First Name.  This probably happened around the same time that time outs became popular, when the word play-date entered the parenting lexicon, maybe around the same time it became mandatory to invite the whole class to a birthday party and gifts stopped being opened until everyone was gone.  Right around the time that parents started trying harder to be friends with their kids and not trying as hard to be parents.

And so I am left buzzing about something that seems minor but perhaps is just part of the bigger picture.  There should be a separation between adult and child.  Children, especially our own, are not our equals and they should not be treated as such.  I am not suggesting that we bring back the rod or risk spoiling the child.  I am not suggesting that we go back to the dark ages of parenting, before they knew about seat belts and safety helmets and the dangers of driving while intoxicated and second-hand cigarette smoke.  But a climate of respect needs to be rediscovered and nurtured.  Perhaps it is as simple as the way we are addressed, not as an equal, but as an elder.

Buzz, buzz, buzz.

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14 thoughts on “Buzz Words

    • dhonour October 7, 2013 / 1:32 pm

      A bit of a rant, but it’s still buzzing away in my head. Pondering is probably good!

      Like

  1. doublewhirler October 5, 2013 / 9:41 pm

    Spot on Dina! Could this be the fallout from a series of PSAs akin to Schoolhouse Rock in the 70’s called “The Most Important Person?” They started with a song, “The most important person in the whole wide world is you, and you hardly even know you! The most important person in the whole wide world is you, c’mon we’ll show you!”

    Like

    • dhonour October 7, 2013 / 1:33 pm

      Next you will be telling me that we should blame Marlo Thomas and Free To Be You and Me! Say it isn’t so. Though it probably is. It’s a fine line between encouraging self esteem and promoting inflated self worth….

      Like

      • doublewhirler October 7, 2013 / 5:50 pm

        Hee, hee, I almost included Marlo and gang. I guess my response to the Huff Puff article (thanks for mentioning it) is that since the 60s civil rights and the feminist movements, kids, girls in particular, have been told that they can grow up to be whatever they want to be—they’ll just have to work really hard to get there. Empowering kids isn’t new. What’s changed is that the second part of the message has disappeared.

        Maybe it is the prevalence of social media with the myriad of ways to broadcast one’s status that has upped the self promotion and anxiety stakes? (Confession: I can’t bring myself to watch Girls) This online presence/social issue adds another dimension to parenting that we’re just starting to see play out. We live in interesting times, Ms. Honour! (And hell yeah, you should be addressed as Ms. Honour)

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      • dhonour October 7, 2013 / 6:49 pm

        I love Free to Be You and Me. I’m glad we aren’t dragging it into this mess. You summed it up beautifully when you said that what has changed is that the second part of the message has disappeared. Because that is exactly right. There is no sense of work ethic, just entitlement. And oh God, how I feel like the old person thinking “in my day….”. Social media plays a huge part–but what of the Y Gen, who mostly grew up before it became so prevalent? Something happened. Something was in the Wheaties in the 80s. I’m not sure what it was, and I’m not sure how it will end up. Watching Girls is a bittersweet exercise for me. It’s shot in my old neighborhood. We sit and recognize eateries and streets only they are populated by young people who don’t possess any redeeming qualities that I can see. It truly is cringe worthy. Give me Sex and the City any day ;-). I was Ms. Honour when I taught. Perhaps I should bring it back into play.

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  2. Lorem Ipsum October 6, 2013 / 3:59 pm

    Entitlement is definitely a key word, as you have rightly pointed out. Let’s face it, as a generation addicted to consumerism, we have, in turn, spoiled our kids rotten. And, yes, moreover, we have made the mistake of wanting to be friends with our children, rather than distant parental figures wielding true authority. As a minor aside, at our son’s school, parents are addressed universally by the children as being so-and-so’s mum or dad. For instance, “Hello, Billy’s dad, can you help me tie my shoe lace?” I quite like that compromise, as opposed to, “Hey, you, old guy!”

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    • dhonour October 7, 2013 / 1:39 pm

      Hey you, old guy! I think I, and a lot of the parents I know of my….err..age group…still have a lot of left over baby boomer ‘you need to work for what you get in this world’ ethic left over. Whether or not most of us are instilling that in our kids–I don’t know. Consumerism is a problem, for sure. But I have searched myself many times for that tipping point when it became more important to befriend than to parent. Not that all child led parenting ideas or trends should be dismissed at all, I think that reasoning and talking and explaining (as frustrating as that can be at times) is far more effective (and humane) than spanking. That said, I think kids today don’t have enough of what my dad would have called “The fear of God” in them. They don’t fear anything and thereby there’s nothing that you can hold over them as consequence. It’s like an ennui duvet has settled over youth. There you go. I’ve been looking for an excuse to use the Edward Gorey “P is for Polly who died of Ennui” illustration as a title….maybe this is it ;-).

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  3. Natalie Wilhelm October 6, 2013 / 9:51 pm

    And once again, I am sending your blog off to some of my besties. They are all Gen Xers by the way. 🙂

    Love this!

    N

    ________________________________

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    • dhonour October 7, 2013 / 1:40 pm

      Detention, Natalie. We need detention again! 😉

      Like

  4. Twindaddy October 7, 2013 / 3:59 pm

    Respect for adults is something I’ve demanded of my children since they were old enough to speak.

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    • dhonour October 7, 2013 / 6:44 pm

      Most people nowadays don’t, though. That’s part of the problem. I always thought that I taught my children the same, but now looking at the bigger picture, I wonder if I too have been slack.

      Like

      • Twindaddy October 7, 2013 / 6:47 pm

        I know. A lot of people think they’re children are special and more important than anyone else’s kids. Their kids should get special treatment.

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  5. lexborgia October 8, 2013 / 5:03 pm

    Detention was cool, if you were there with the badasses i.e ‘the rebels.’ Writing lines was not(1000 times ‘I shall not disrespect the teacher) – torture after 300.Still, I think it’s unnecessary now.

    Like

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