The other day, I gave my eight-year-old nephew an awesome present for his birthday. One I wished for at eight years old. One I could never have as a kid, because of six letters: D, A, H, L, I, A.
I gave him a sign for his bedroom door – with his name on it – even though he too has a unique name.
You see, in a futile effort to be uncommon, there is the mutilation of common names like, say, Khrystee and Timh. And then, with the advent of celebrity baby (read: publicity) names such as Kyd, Apple, Kal-El, and Moonblood, toy and novelty manufacturers have finally accepted that there are more than 20 names out there. Hence, they now give stickers to spell your own moniker.
So, great gift, right? It was … until the not-yet-even-a-tween opened the iPod touch from his mom.
I should have known. After all, my niece did have a BlackBerry at the ripe old age of six. Now that she’s 10 years old, I think she’s on her second or third one. (Probably “LOL’d” the first two to death.)
By the way, my cell phone displays texts – on two pages.
I’m not bitter that when I was her age, my MomGyver made me dolls out of towels and elastic bands.
And I’m not bothered that I used a Walkman cassette player until two years ago, even though my elementary school nephew has an iPod touch – with a dock too.
I'm simply confused.
First, when did kids become equipped like adults?
Second, when did “LOL” become an actual word used in verbal conversation?
And third, when did I become my parents?
Kids today - Oh my, I was actually about to start a sentence like that …
Today, kids (that’s better) are very different than those of my generation. Granted, my family was very different than “normal” families of our generation, growing up listening to eight-tracks, while everyone else had record players and then tape decks.
But I digress …
It’s just that there is so much “progress” now, and it is so rapid, that it’s not the Jones’ that people try to keep up with anymore - it’s the technology.
And it’s wonderful that young people have the world at their fingertips, it gives them a quantifiable advantage over our generation. But, it is also a huge disadvantage.
Kids speak in tweets and status updates. Conversations sound like text messages.
“LOL. BTW, BRB. TTYS!”
And text messages are getting more complex. There are so many abbreviations now, that I almost feel like I need an English to Txt Msg Dictionary.
These days, most kids do their homework on the computer. Does anyone experiment with penmanship anymore?
Through my tweens (though my generation didn’t market “tweens” – rather we were just “children”), pre-teens, and teens, I changed my writing style countless times. Bubbly writing, circle dotting the 'Is' writing smaller, pressing lighter, pressing harder …
In the end, I think it even helped me develop a pretty cool autograph. You know, for all the fans and paparazzi who hunt me down daily.
Whatever the case, it’s not about writing these days. Today, it’s about texting speed. And by that standard, I am indeed sloppy.
Games have become gaming. Really, who plays games anymore?
As a kid, I would often play with my brothers or alone and make up games, with clever names such as: When, Celery, Carrot, and Waitress.
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have divulged that information, but I’m just trying to make a point.
We made stuff up. We played.
Of course, there are kids who are enrolled in extracurricular activities. My niece and nephews for instance, are involved in other things besides DVDs, iPods, and BlackBerries.
And that is a whole other story …
How dance competitions have changed. It used to be that you buy your tap, jazz, and/or ballet shoes, and maybe a couple competition costumes.
In Toronto, the cost of good dance classes is almost prohibitive. And competitions themselves are outrageously nearing the cost and scale of beauty pageants.
Recently, at my niece’s dance showcase, a voice came over the PA, announcing to the audience full of empty-pocketed parents:
“Remember to purchase tonight’s ($20) DVD of your child, so your child can watch back all of his or her mistakes.”
In a society that pushes its young to be better, bigger, stronger, skinnier, prettier, richer, and more advanced than the next person, this quest finds itself filled with sabotage.
We find kids who are in their own world; yet, constantly under scrutiny.
We find kids who push their limits, too often only by pushing buttons.
We find kids who are left out, because their parents can’t afford to keep them in.
And we find kids whose parents can’t afford to keep them in, but still sacrifice everything and more to do so.
We find kids who are geniuses, who can’t describe anything without the word “amazing.”
We find kids who don’t have a concept of money, but cannot live without it.
We find kids who will always be better than we are, and not good enough to compare to what we once were.
The technological gap between generations is growing at a mind-numbing pace, in effect shortening the time-span between generations.
So I will probably never catch up to my niece and nephews, and they will probably never catch up to me either.
Now, I'm thinking for my nephew's ninth birthday, I’ll get him a pen … You know, something to go with the present his mom will probably get him: a second-generation iPad.
(By the way, I’m not one for free endorsements. So, Apple, you’re welcome.)