"These Kids Today"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
One man’s desperate attempt to not turn into his parents.

Submitted: July 16, 2008

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Submitted: July 16, 2008

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As a child of the 70’s and 80’s, I often heard from my parents how much easier things were for “kids today.”  And I guess it was easier:  We had TV, all six channels of it (seven if you include PBS, but come on, to a kid that doesn’t count) where they had only radio; we had videogames, cutting edge stuff like Pong and – gasp! – that modern marvel, Atari, where they had a rag doll, an old Band-Aid, and a rusty nail, all of which kept them entertained for hours; and, of course, we had vaccinations and back then everybody had Polio.

But we didn’t just have it easier than they did; no, the old days, the days of radio and playing with used Band-Aids, and Polio – those were the good old days.  That’s a concept that never really made sense to me:  How can you, in one breath, tell me how much you suffered and in the next, tell me how we’re a bunch of wussies who never knew from Pearl Harbor?  (In fairness, my parents never actually used the word “wussies,” but it was implied in their tone).  

I took great joy in mocking their stereotypical take on the modern world.  My wife and I would laugh and laugh.  Then something really interesting happened:  I became a parent myself.

At seven and nearly eleven, my boys have so much more than I ever did as a kid.  They don’t have six channels plus PBS, they have three hundred channels (plus PBS).Many of them in high definition.Which they operate effortlessly with their remote control.  You know how I changed channels throughout most of my childhood?  I got up and turned the pliers that acted as a dial after the real dial broke.

They don’t have Atari, with the stick figure playing shortstop trying to catch a square ball; in their games you can see the sweat on Derek Jeter’s brow.The kids actually control Derek Jeter.  The name of shortstop we controlled on Atari?  “Shortstop.”

Even their vaccinations are better; my older son’s last flu “shot” was a mist that went up his nose.  Witchcraft!

The list goes on and on:  They have cell phones, we had walkie talkies (if we were lucky); they have DVD’s, we had View Masters; they have iPods, we had boomboxes.

And, of course, the knockout punch:

THEY HAVE THE INTERNET!

Get rid of the cell phones, the DVD’s, the iPods; throw them all away.  

They have the Internet.  

Game over.

I’ve given this a lot of thought and here’s the conclusion I’ve come to:

There’s an old adage that the only thing parents really want for their kids is that they have it easier than they did.

That, in fact, is a load of bull.  

The truth is, every generation is jealous of the next.I mean, my kids are great: polite, funny, not spoiled -- I’m really fond of them.  But their closets are literally the size of my entire room growing up.  I hate them for that a little bit.

Armed with this self awareness, I do everything I can to fight the urge to be like my parents, to not belittle what they have, to not brag about what we had.I fight the urge simply so I don’t feel like I’m some codger, not because it’ll make them feel badly.  On the contrary, they should feel a little bad.  They have the Internet, the lucky little—

It’s not an easy battle. When we go bowling (and if you haven’t been in a while you’ll be shocked at how much it costs), it’s takes all the strength I have not to tell them how I could bowl three games, get a hot dog and a Coke for $2.50.  $2.50!!!  I mean, seriously, the show rental alone now is $2.50.Deep breath, Dave, deep breath.

Unfortunately, last week, the dam finally broke.  

My younger son come home from a trip to Target with my wife and held up something she bought him.  A pack of baseball cards.  A pack of six baseball cards.  I tried biting my lip but I’m a weak, weak man.  Things starting pouring out of my mouth that I simply couldn’t control.  I used to get three packs of cards for forty-five cents.  Each pack had fifteen cards.  And gum.  And the players didn’t take steroids then.  And they had regular jobs in the off-season.  And on and on.  Somehow, by the time I was done I’d segued into attacks on fast food chains and Kool Aid and the state of modern day cartoons (“’Pokemon’ isn’t a cartoon.  ‘Magilla Gorilla,’ that was a cartoon.”).My son looked at me for a few seconds and then, with nothing really to say, ran off.To his giant room.

So now I officially have the scarlet letter of “C” for “codger” on my head.

But I’m confident that I have a way out.  See, the holidays are coming and I’m pretty sure that all it’ll take is one visit to Grandma’s house to hear about Shirley Temple and penny candy and choking down castor oil to make me look young and happening again.


© Copyright 2017 David Bickel. All rights reserved.

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