Kids these days

Remember the bumper sticker that read, “He who dies with the most toys wins?” It should be, “She who dies with the best kids wins.” And judging by the kids I meet these days, I’d say there are a lot of winners out there. Supposedly it now costs $160,140 to raise a kid to college age. I’d say we’re getting a real bargain.

Today’s crop of young people is, to borrow one of their words, “awesome.” Although, I don’t know if some baby-boomer parents had much to do with it. After all, many kids were raised in day care or left alone to fend for themselves. This made them more independent and more competitive than my generation ever was. They get along better with each other, are less racist and share their toys better too.

Every generation likes to say that kids these days are going downhill. But you can’t really say that about this generation. Today’s kids are simply smarter. They don’t “smoke” candy cigarettes or make pilgrimages to Woodstock, yet they are far more worldly than we ever were. About the only trips my generation took were on LSD or to Canada. Kids these days don’t ask as many stupid questions either because they know we don’t know the answers. Besides, they can go on the Internet and find the answer to any question. Young people today know more about computers than we ever did about cars and can often be seen helping their computer-illiterate parents. Baby boomers, do you ever remember your parents asking you for advice? About anything?

We may like to think we worked harder than kids today but it’s just that we worked at different jobs. Whereas we mowed lawns and delivered newspapers, they are bagging groceries, flipping burgers and clerking. Because they can listen to a CD and talk on their cell phone at the same time they’re playing a video game, a simple cash register doesn’t scare them. I don’t remember my generation standing in line for a book like Harry Potter. And wasn’t skateboarding popular when we were kids too?

Every generation likes to talk about the hard times and dusty roads. I heard about the Great Depression until I felt guilty for not having lived through it. But kids today have it tough too. Many are raised in tenements and even middle class kids must worry on a daily basis if their school yard will be the next killing ground. Sure, polio has been cured but AIDs hasn’t. And the danger from cooties is just as great as it ever was. Kids these days may not have to share tepid bath water with a sibling but how many of us have any frequent flyer miles from being shipped back and forth between divorced parents?

If you compare a Polaroid picture of yesteryear with a digital one from today you’ll see we’re wearing the same clothes: jeans and T-shirts. Sure, they have their Nikes but let’s be honest, we cared just as much about our PF Flyers and Converse high tops. They might wear their caps on backwards but look how many grown men, who should know better, have taken up the custom. They wear their baggy pants way too low but we wore ours too high, up around the arm pits if I recall. Oh sure, a few may dye their hair blue but it’s shorter than ours ever was. Girls might wear work boots with dresses but it’s better than going barefoot with a flower in your hair.

Our memories seem to be fading with age. Kids these days love raunchy humor like South Park but so did we. Remember Mad magazine? And no generation ever understood their kid’s music, if you can call it that. Like we never turned our music up real loud? Kids like their music because their parents don’t. It’s that simple. That’s also why they have 25 different ways to “shake” hands — because we don’t know the secret handshake.

Today’s kids are more polite, patriotic, open minded and patient with their fuddy-duddy parents than we ever were. They are less idealistic, more realistic and, if you ask me, are a big improvement over their parents. And still, knowing all of our faults they still forgive us, giving us more love in return than our hearts could ever hold.

Lee Pitts is a California ag producer and newspaper editor.

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