Randomness, Real Life

Generation Gap o_0

For those who don’t know, I was 19 when my eldest son was born. What a surprise he was, born almost exactly 10 and a half months after Bob and I eloped! Being such a young mom (20 when my youngest was born), I’ve always had plenty of energy to “keep up” with my kids. When they were little, I was right there on the floor playing cars or Legos or boardgames with them. As they’ve gotten older, however, I’ve noticed it: the generation gap. Nineteen/twenty years doesn’t seem like that big of a generation gap. But it is for those of us born in the mid-80s when microwaves hadn’t quite yet become a common household appliance. I remember when I was about five my dad carrying this massive box into our apartment and how excited my mom was to have a microwave!

Last April while at parent-teacher conferences, my son’s teacher asked me to come and talk to her fourth and fifth grade English students about writing and help them with their biographies.

Oh boy!

I must admit, I’ve talked in front of hundreds of adults at conferences. It’s nerve-wracking. I don’t like being in front of people. It just makes me awkward. But kids! Oye, talk about a tough audience. Thankfully she scheduled it for only a week out so I only had seven days to agonize about what I’d say to a gaggle of children. Any longer than that and I’d have had a full-blown panic attack.

Part of what I explained to these kids was when describing their person in their report, talk about their childhood: did they go to a one-room school? Did they have a private tutor? What were their hobbies? This helps the reader have a better idea of the standards of the time period that they’re writing about.

Somehow, and I’m not 100% sure how because this is just how I roll, this launched into me explaining what MY childhood was like:

I learned to type at age seven on a computer that was a black screen with green letters because computers were becoming “all the rage” and had to learn binary code (a code written by a series of 0s and 1s) to write a simple program my first year in high school.

I didn’t have the Internet in my home until I was 11–and it was AOL (America On-Line). They were fascinated by how the Internet used the phone line and you had to buy minutes. Oh, and that SOUND! I’m a sound effect gal and did my best attempt at that keypad dialing followed by the ear piercing squealing and then the screaming bear trapped in a washing machine as it finally connected.

While they were amazed at how the Internet worked, one couldn’t wrap his little head around what I meant by it used the phone line and made the phone unusable. These kids didn’t understand a LANDLINE!

Here my little 29 year old self stood in this room and my jaw was unhinged in disbelief. Even when my boys were little we had a landline. They don’t remember it, but it was there.

Of course this launched into an explanation of a phone that had a handset and a curl chord that plugged into the base and if you could afford it you’d get a cordless phone so you could take the handset in your room and talk. This brought about more confusion. “There wasn’t a phone in every room?”

Um, no. There were like two in the house and it was rare for anyone to have more than one line.

And then came the question of how would you send a text?

I left that room feeling like an antique after explaining that texting is fairly new, only gaining popularity fifteen years ago and cost per text sent and received. Which of course caused more disbelief and an explanation of why acronyms such as LOL, RU not to be confused with “ur”, and TTYL came about.

My question is: where the heck are these kids’ parents?! Are they too busy playing on their own phones to explain the “olden days” to their children and leave it to the poor sap who agreed to come talk about writing? I know I’m not the oldest parent of the class. Good grief and I thought the biggest hint of a generation gap between me and my kids was that when kids come over here they always want to compare the size of the TV with theirs (we always lose–I’m not a TV watcher) and when I was a kid, the first thing my mom asked me when I walked through the front door was: whose house is cleaner–theirs or ours? (This always had a definite winner, too. You could do surgery in any room in my mom’s house.)

That’s my thought for the day as your kids are starting to go back to school. Educate them at home, too!  Describe to them that awful noise that rent the air while connection to the Internet followed by those words that made you dance with anticipation: you’ve got mail. Describe how great they have it with the ability to talk on the phone AND send a text AND look at Facebook all at the SAME TIME.

10 thoughts on “Generation Gap o_0”

  1. I tell my boys about the “olden days” when we used VHS tapes and they have a tape deck that I taught them to use. It doesn’t seem to matter; the other day my oldest who is 6, asked me what people wore back in the 90’s. I asked, “What do you think people wore?” He said, “Leaves from the jungle.” I’m about to turn 32, and we didn’t have a computer until I was about 11. I had an actual type-writer before that. I remember buying minutes of the internet. I had forgotten about that until you mentioned it! I am curious what things our kids are growing up with now that THEIR kids will be shocked about.

    1. I don’t know what they’re growing up with that their kids will live without but I can’t wait to find out and join in with my grandkids in teasing them about it! Leaves from the Jungle. That’s hilarious.

      We still have a few VHS tapes. My kids just stare at them in awe. About two years ago, I bought a car that was the best of the best…in 1996 with power windows, power driver’s seat and a tape deck. My kids didn’t much care for having to wait for the song to rewind or fastforward. LOL

  2. For me the old days go back farther! 🙂 I have shared with our children the differences and they appreciate the facts and are grateful to live in this age. They laugh at my husband and I because we do not embrace the technology we have at our fingertips (smart phones- we only use them for talking and texting). I remind them that while they use the technology…they need to respect us because we are the ones that taught them to use eating utensils and the toilet! 🙂 lol

    1. There’s a meme that says something about “Remember when you get annoyed with your mom for asking you a question for the 100th time about the computer that she’s the one who taught you to use the toilet.”

      I very rarely use my phone for anything except talking and texting and maybe the Internet in a pinch.

  3. Our kids asked their dad when he finished school, and my husband told them he graduated in 1996. They looked at each other with wide eyes and slack jaws and reverently whispered, “The 1900’s…” It might as well have been a prehistoric age! (I’m only 31, but they make me feel old!!! I’m glad to know I’m not alone 😉)

    1. No, you’re not alone. My kids came home from VBS a few weeks ago with a slap bracelet and were disappointed I knew how it worked. When I explained that I grew up with those, the novelty was lost because it was an “old toy”.

  4. Oh my! You ladies are making me feel really old! I am old enough to be your mother. So . . . Do you remember the rotary phone? or the Party line? How about vinyl records?

    I remember an event at my husbands work, my youngest was about four. We were taken to a file room and shown this record type disc, but it had a larger hole in the middle. We were given a talk on how some day in the near future all those files would be stored on that disc. I had just seen my first CD. Now all those files can be stored on an even smaller thumb/flash drive and CDs are obsolete. So how about that for generation gab? 😀

    1. Oddly enough, I do remember records. My mom had a record player when I was little and used to pay records on it. I didn’t personally have a party line. Except once there was a glitch with the phone company and we had one for a few days. Thank heaven that was short lived.

      Rotary phones were before my time. My mom grew up with them and when I was about 12 or 13, I begged for her to get one for the house. She wanted nothing to do with that so she helped me go on EBay (still fairly new website and I bought a “lot” of 3 rotary phones–one brown, one tan and one gaudy 70s orange). I still have and LOVE the orange one. I have the tan one, too. I gave the brown one away though. It looked like a pile of you- know-what every time I looked at it. Couldn’t handle that. That said, I really like old phones and I have a wall crank phone and two candlestick phones–one of which has a rotary dial on it and actually works.

      I have tons of CDs. I’m just too lazy to put them on the computer.

  5. I’m neither a parent or married but when I was younger I was always the quiet one but when I met my boyfriend’s cousin who is still convinced that I will one day marry my boyfriend but she never stops talking. I wonder where she gets all that energy, her older sister is moody and doesn’t talk much but this one never stops talking.

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