SOCIAL STUDIES Kids These Days Danielle Hampton

Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of something; buckling my son into the shopping cart, cutting up broccoli into toddler sized pieces and putting away a tower of blocks at 10pm, when I’ll stop and think about how odd it is that I am in fact a mother, a wife and more so, an adult.

There are times I feel like I will always think of myself as 16 years old, driving with the windows down, listening to some gloriously-’90s band. I can remember back to those beautifully naive days as if they only happened yesterday, which is totally cliché in itself, but incredibly true. It was even more strange when I taught high school – did I, too, think I knew everything at their age? Was I as independent as them, as headstrong in believing I was invincible? I think so. There were so many times I would feel bad for the kids I taught, in all of their iPhoning-Facebooking-texting-glory.  I would think about the days of my childhood, social media and digital camera-free, and feel that kids today sure got the bad end of the deal. But did they? No. All I’m doing is assuming my way of growing up is the only way, much like my parents did, and their parents too. The circumstances just change, and I think that every generation has that golden nostalgic feeling of their youth following them as they move through life.

And thinking of myself as a grown up? So, so weird. How did this happen? It’s a topic that comes up often in my group of friends as we’ve all begun entering ours 30s right around the same time. Over the past couple of years, most of us have had our 10-year high school reunions, and figuring out what we want to do with our lives can at times seem like its on a deadline of its own. Suddenly The Real World isn’t so real anymore, Spring Break just means it’s a good week to avoid the mall or any tropical destination, and we kind of just feel… old.

Just the other day I was in the produce section of the grocery store when a young kid, maybe 7 or 8, ran by the avocados, knocking a good amount of them to the floor. One rolled over to the foot of a well-dressed, middle-aged woman, and she picked it up and walked it back over to the now-destroyed avocado pile. As she placed it on top, she looked at me and said, “Kids these days!” with more than a trace of disgust in her voice. I smiled at her as her eyes narrowed at the sound of the wild, laughing child in the background, and wheeled my cart on by.

Being a parent is the quickest way to feel grown up. You are in charge of a child’s whole entire life. I stay home with my son, so my job is my son. I often find myself thinking about the different ways to raise a child, parenting techniques and quite frequently I find myself getting sad at how fast time is going by. The “kids these days” remark from the woman at the grocery store, paired with my recent introspection in regards to all things getting older, led me to think a lot about the kind of adult I want to be.

I never want to find myself glaring at a laughing child, forgetting what it was like to be young and without a care in the world. I always want to remember what it was like to be “that” age. At the same time though, I never want to be the trying-too-hard parent, the best friend rather than mother, or someone that actually lets their kid run wild in a produce section, subsequently knocking over 20 avocados onto an older woman’s foot!

It’s a fine balance, but I hope that I’m able to someday figure it out. I look forward to saying “Kids these days” but then smiling with a happy shake of my head, rather than glaring. And I hope that I’ll still have these moments, even when I’m 80 years old, where I find myself asking, “How did this happen?” while thinking about how weird it is that I still feel like I’m 16, driving around with the windows down, music up, that same favorite song from 1998 still playing in my senior-citizen mind. I hope.

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  1. Best article I’ve read today! Way to bring it home. Speaking from the heart and telling it like it is. Love your writing and always look forward to the next article.

  2. Hello Danielle ! I follow your articles (and blog of course) since a little bit more than one year. I have to say that you always have the right words. I’m actually leaving in Sweden (but I’m French) and i’m planning to stay here as an elementary school teacher . I recently learnt that here, people don’t want to work with kids. When I asked why, I had a sort of “Kids these days” as an answer. It’s terrible, I’m actually not a mother, but I have respect for kids and of course if nobody want to take care of them they will grow badly… I’m seriously shocked by this mentality and I hope that it will change…
    Thanks for this article Danielle ! A lot of love from Sweden !

  3. Hey D! I was at a teacher conference recently and the speaker was talking about this very issue. One comment he made was oh so true; he said, ‘ when adults (50′s and under) see a small child running in the halls they usually say, ” whoa! Hold on, you’re not being safe….” but when and 80-90 year old sees a youngster running the first thing they usually say is, “wow! Look at how fast he is!” With a big smile on their face, so impressed. I want to make sure I always find the bright side of being a parent, teacher and just plain ol’ adult! :))

  4. Loved this.

  5. Danielle your sucha lovely writer :)

    Anonymous | 2/22/2012 12:02 pm
  6. Awesome read!! Thanks Danielle! You took the words right out of my mouth :)

  7. Great read! I am a 28 year old, wife and mother of two under 2! Their are so many days when I can’t believe that I am a grown up. On those days I crank my 90′s jams up high and teach the babies my sweet dance moves;)

  8. I often can’t believe I’m 32 and pay my own bills and make all my own decisions. I still feel 16, and I am still waiting to be asked to the prom! But, I’ve also realized I am older, and with aging comes a sense of relief and a lot of knowledge! I feel happy to be 32, but kind of still can’t believe it.

  9. I’m only 20 going to college, with my future ahead of me. But i think about what it is going to be like when i am on my own with a husband, house and kids, and i wanna have the same mindset. I am a pretty happy person and i want to stay that way too. =) You put it into words nicely

  10. well said! I hear the same kinds of comments and roll my eyes. Things change because we and the people a generation above us are the ones changing things…ON PURPOSE. embrace it, make it work in your favor and chose your battles with your children!! no whining over spilled avacados!!