The other morning when leaving Bootcamp, I heard a woman exclaim how mundane her life had become with making lunches and gathering kids to the bus for school. I remember those days. Frankly, I’m glad they’re over. It’s challenging being a mom and working and shuffling after-school activities, homework, discipline and then you still have to feed these people. It’s exhausting. And then, it seems a few days later, they’re driving cars and shuffling themselves to after-school activities. They’re going to parties and getting part-time jobs. They buy their own lunches and get busy with friends. Pretty soon, she’s going to college or university and taking classes we’ve never heard of and dating people we don’t know. Who owns you?
Then you find yourself sitting at her convocation
and celebrating her achievement (which is really yours, as well) and then she’s
stressed because she has to find a job.
Then you turn around and she’s moved out into her own apartment because she
has actual employment, her own vehicle and a life. And here you are Mommy, with her lunch in
your hand saying, ‘but I made you peanut butter, your favourite.’ She shrugs and says she has her own food and
will see you later. Like next week. When she has the time and is not on
shift. And she needs food for her
The mundane is how you go from ‘Mommy,
I need you’ to ‘Mom, I’ll see you later.’
It’s all the crap you have to endure in order to see that snotty-nosed
kid become an adult. One capable of
making her own lunches and paying her own bills and taking care of somebody else’s
sick baby. But then she comes home and
opens the fridge to see what’s to eat and she wants to watch Arthur’s Perfect
Christmas with you and everything is right with the world, until she has to go
back to work and become an adult and someone else’s caregiver.
You did that, Mommy. Because you made her lunches and you got her
shuffled to the bus and you read her stories at night for the one-hundredth
millionth time and you did it because you knew, someday, it would all be worth
it. I know, right now it’s tiring and
challenging. I know you have no time for
yourself and you wish she would just be a bit more independent, but don’t rush
it. She’ll get there. In her own time.
Hang in there, Mommy. You are doing a great job. Make those damned lunches, take her to the
bus stop and read the bed-time stories. You’ll
blink and you’ll be hanging art in her new apartment and wondering if she has
enough toilet paper for next week.
The mundane stuff is what she
relies on. You are her safety net. Keep going.
There was no internet, or iphone or i-anything. We had jump ropes and played hide-and-seek. Lunches were packed in paper bags or plastic lunchpales. We had milk tickets and rarely drank pop. We played games outside like tag and dodgeball and tether ball. We went to the park and organized softball games or climbed the monkey bars. We played Red Rover in the space that belonged to the person who had the biggest back yard. We went swimming at Jaycee pool and walked a mile or more to get there. We rode our bikes, skinned out our knees (and in my case, my face), and threw a ball against a brick wall when we got bored. We climbed trees, made forts outside and chased butterflies. We went tobogganing in the winter, threw snowballs and built snowmen. We sucked on icicles (nature’s popsicles), chewed bubblegum until our jaws ached and dared somebody to eat a worm. We went fishing, threw rocks in the river and played truth or dare. We had sleepovers, went to drive-in movies and knocked on our friends’ doors to come outside. We ate dinner in under ten seconds, had summer jobs and after school ones, too. We walked or took the bus everywhere and hung out at the mall.
That is what childhood looked like.
Now it looks like this:
Talking is through a cell phone and it isn’t with your mouth, it’s with your fingers. Video games are played indoors. Jump ropes are for the ladies at the gym. Bike riding is for the people on TV or for people who don’t have cars and need to get to work. Organizing outdoor games is unheard of. What’s Red Rover? Climbing trees is illegal, I think. Balls are a part of a guy’s anatomy. Lunch is going to McDonald’s and coffee at Starbucks. A bagged lunch means you don’t have any money and it basically sucks to be you. Fishing is for dads on the weekend. Outside in the cold?! Maybe if there’s snowboarding or somebody has an ice rink in the backyard. Icicles are frozen acid rain. Snowmen are too heavy to build. Tobogganing means climbing back UP the hill. Ugh. Walking anywhere is dangerous. Throwing a snowball means you have aggressive tendencies and anger management issues and will require counselling. Truth or dare is played on the internet and is called Facebook. Hanging out at the mall still happens and the crew you hang with is the Bloods. Selling a ‘pip’ is not candy. After school jobs require a curriculum vitae and a multitude of references. A young person working through University or College gets a disparaging look from the instructor.
Generation gaps aside, there’s a big one here. We are to blame, but let’s not discount the kids just yet.
They work hard to get good grades, they work their part-time jobs in spite of adults barraging them with complaints and cynicism, they do their volunteer work, play team sports, take music lessons, and drive mom’s car to pick up the siblings at the after school tutoring program. They take out the garbage, do their own laundry, buy their books, pay for their gas, clean their rooms and feed the dog. They battle peer shit, try to side-step the drugs and the alcohol, tone down the drama on Facebook and keep their wits about them. They spend their money on i-tunes and at Starbucks, buy Christmas presents for their friends and remember birthdays. They know about the bullies and try to steer clear, defend their friends in the face of that mean kid in math and learn that as much as life sucks sometimes, they’ll always have that guy on Youtube to make them laugh. They love their parents and think they’re lame sometimes and they have no sense of humour at all. Home is a great place to hang out and eat everything in the fridge. Their bed is their refuge. They know a lot about fashion. They think they’re invincible.
So did we.
We are raising a totally different generation of beings. In spite of, or despite all the technological advances these kids are still producing ideas and generating a whole new set of problems…but maybe solutions too. Let’s not judge too harshly. Sure our childhoods were completely different, but so were the times we lived in.