Thursday, September 2, 2010

Notes on being "old"

M1 and I stepped out the back door the other day on our way to run some errands. As I opened the garage door, I saw the mail truck pull up and stop in front of our mailbox. In a moment of sheer inspiration, I pulled out my best male-impersonating voice and proclaimed, "You've Got Mail!"

M1 looked at me and asked, "Mom, why did you do a voice?"

And it hit me again, for about the 100th time this week, that I am in fact a generation apart from my son. Never mind the fact that we're both technically in the same generation, at least according to several sources. He does not and will never understand the deep meaning hidden behind that phrase. He will never know how exciting it was to hear a modem - HEAR a modem - connect to the Internet and that voice, long after you've given up on any sort of connection and wandered back to the television, declare that somebody has taken the time to look up your e-mail address, type you a letter, and send it. And you didn't dare spend too long on the Internet because that tied up the phone!

"You've Got Reality Check!" is what it might as well have said. Yeesh.

Another incident occurred on Sunday. The kids and I were on our own since Oz was out of town, and my mother-in-law had called us up and invited us over for dinner. The red carpet portion of the Emmys was on while we were there, and Claire Danes walked out for her interview.

I didn't recognize her. Neither did the brother-in-law who is my age. She looked, for lack of a better word, OLD. He and I both commented that she was way cuter when she was younger, back when she did "My So-Called Life" and "Romeo and Juliet."

M1 was intrigued.

"Mom, was that a famous person?"


I know there are hundreds - OK, thousands - of things that I'll remember from my youth that the kids will never know about unless I share them. I've tried to hunt down things like Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' or Lionel Richie's 'All Night Long' or Bob Marley's classic 'Don't Worry, Be Happy.' But they're seeing these things on YouTube. YOUTUBE. I refer back to the hearing the modem comment. Uploading an entire video onto the Internet was unheard of back in those days.

They'll never remember the original joy of Skip-Its and snap bracelets and hair crimpers that made a girl look somewhere between a poodle and someone touching a Van de Graff generator. They'll never know life without cell phones and laptops and flat-screen TVs. (When Oz and I first got married, we had a CONSOLE TV because it was free from the local community theater.) All this they'll never know, and by today's standards, they're not particularly spoiled!

I could go from here to making social commentary about how materialistic our society is and how dependent upon technology we have become, but I don't think that's the point. I was just as materialistic as a child; the technology just wasn't there. The pinnacles of technology were the neighbor's Nintendo and her Walkman that played cassettes (cassettes - yet another item they'll never know about, like 5-1/4" floppy disks and green-tinted Apple computer screens). So many things will be ancient history to them!

On a more sobering note, they won't have memories of 9/11, either. Like the JFK assassination or the bombing of Pearl Harbor, that event (and, if you like, especially around here, the OKC Bombing) defines my generation. Nobody has forgotten where they were on that day, and nobody old enough to clearly remember it likely ever will. Completely mind-altering and completely unforgettable.

I really enjoy sharing the tidbits of my past like old toys, TV shows, and ugly hair. I love coming across all the memorabilia and giggling at the bewilderment of the children when they try to wrap their minds around the 'simpler' times that we lived in. But with knowledge comes power and responsibility, and teaching them a well-rounded perspective is definitely a task I have to face without fear if I'm going to raise children who are aware of their world.

On the other hand, when they call me up someday and whine, "Mom, I'm old. My kids don't know who Hannah Montana is," I might... just MIGHT... giggle a little.

And then I'll tell them about Punky Brewster.

1 comment:

Habebi said...

Punky Brewster was 'da bomb!! Oh I loved coming home from school and watching that show.

You have an award waiting for you over on my blog hun. Go get it!