Is it old fogyish to reminisce about growing up in the ’70s? Call me crazy, but I just remember it was a whole lot simpler…or is that just me experiencing 20/20 in hindsight?
Those were the glory days when we actually picked up a receiver, dialed a number, and placed a call. If no one answered, we called back later. Yes, we’d wonder where the heck everyone was, and with whom, and there would be some level of anxiety, but if they were true friends—and, you know, at age 15 they all were (duh!)—they’d call back.
There was no “stalking” anyone’s Facebook page to see if they’d updated their status in the past two minutes or tweeted how much fun they were having (without you), or discovering a new photo was just pinned on Pinterest exposing the friend you’re trying to reach posing with their new BFF. There was no texting this one to see if she knows where that one is. If we were home—and most times, if we weren’t in school or working, that’s exactly where we were—we’d just put on an album (Genesis, anyone?) or watch General Hospital at 3 p.m. and sit tight until the phone rang for us to run and answer it (which you had to, lest you miss the call). I don’t think attention deficit disorder was on anyone’s radar back then, but then again, we never had so many distractions.
As hip as I’d like to consider myself, I still don’t understand why my kids don’t just call their friends instead of text. It would cut down on so much time and save so many tendons in their fingers, not to mention prevent the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Of course, if ever I dare ask such a silly question, I’m met with a snarky response. “Why does it matter? I’m not doing anything, anyway.” As any former-English-major and current-editor mother would be, I am compelled to suggest they read a book instead—which is, sadly, unheard of in my house and laughed at most times when I suggest it.
Even the clothing situation is, well, ridiculous. I remember having maybe five shirts and four pairs of jeans to choose from, not including the clothes I’d poach from my sister’s closet. Expecting our kids today to be satisfied with just a few choices, instead of the many, many they have, seems a bridge too far. Yes, of course, we, the parents, are the only ones to blame. We replenish their wardrobes every season whether or not they’ve outgrown their jeans or worn down the soles of their shoes. But let’s be honest, stuff like that just doesn’t happen anymore.
It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that our kids are living in the age of entitlement. We taught them to expect nothing but (read: everything). Now the hard work needs to kick in. We need to learn how to form those two letters between our lips and just say it: No. No to consuming; no to indulgence; no to excess. Let’s teach our kids (and remind ourselves while we’re at it) about repurposing. Let’s remember what value is.
This mission will not be easy, reclaiming simplicity rarely is, and it certainly won’t come without any resistance, but we’ve got to start somewhere and some time. At the very least we can begin to introduce the concept of living a bling-free life, if that’s what we’re hoping to do (and I do). Since we’re the cultivators of our current climate—even though it was born in the spirit of giving them all the things (and there are lots of 'em) that we didn’t have growing up—it’s up to us to put the kibosh on it, now! Who’s with me?