by Maria Schulz
Spring is here at last. I finally feel confident enough to put the snow shovels and ice scrapers away. This is big news, because the blizzards and ice storms that came with Winter 2014 made me doubt that Spring would ever come again.
The flowers have pushed their way through the soil and are now struggling to stand up. They are little but just need conditions to be right before they can stand on their own and share their beauty and promise with the world.
Of course, I knew Spring would come eventually. But sometimes, it’s hard to be optimistic when the future seems bleak and nothing is guaranteed.
As I watch the flowers grow, I think about our kids. This world we’re handing off to them is fraught with problems that, at times, seem beyond our ability to fix. Many of us think that the generations to come won’t be able to save us from the coming apocalypse. As we worry about the world we’ve created, we start to look back nostalgically at a “better” time: a time filled with people who were more intellectually deep, more passionate, and had bigger and better ideas.
It got me to thinking about the different generations that I’ve lived with and known over the years, and how they interact with one another.
The people in power (Boomers and Gen X’ers, with a sprinkling of the “Silent” generation, who by the way, aren’t so silent) want us to believe that kids today are hapless, helicoptered, and helpless. But for everyone who has ever had a grandparent, you know you heard those same complaints. I remember hearing the adults say that kids back in my day were:
- Intellectually lazy and uninspired
- Didn’t know how to commit to anything
- Didn’t know what it was like to work hard
- Never saved enough money
- Expected the world to land in their laps
- Would never amount to anything
No one specifically singled me out with those words, but they did tar me with the same brush used for my entire generation (those wacky, disillusioned, self-reliant Gen X’ers. Gotta love ‘em). I can still remember coming home from a long day of tending the salad bar and making impossible customers happy, only to hear my grandmother and great uncle say, “try working in a factory for 5 cents an hour,” or “you don’t know hard work. We knew what it was to work hard.”
Times change. Sure, I had the “luxury” of going to high school while my grandmother had to go off to work in a factory after 8th grade. But isn’t that what grandparents work so hard for—to make life better for their children and grandchildren? Don’t they want their kids/grandkids to be the next big thinkers and lead the world?
As a member of the Greatest Generation, my grandparents would have been thoroughly confused by the Millennials, and may have entirely dismissed the Boomlets/Generation Z since they are:
- Too reliant on their parents for guidance
- Not intellectually curious
- Only care about themselves
- Expect trophies and laurel leaves showered on them for the smallest things
- Have no respect for authority
- Don’t care about “family” as an institution
- Don’t read
- Don’t have any true passions
- Have short attention spans
- Don’t know how to socialize
- Live their lives with their faces buried in cell phones, tablets, and other electronic devices
- Will never amount to anything
I’ve been hearing a lot about those lazy, good-for-nothing young’uns for a while now. But the thing I’ve learned about sweeping generalizations is that they’re harder to buy into when you know the people who are actually a part of the group everyone is busy disrespecting.
Just last week, I began the Spring rite of attending awards nights, honor society inductions and end-of-year activities to celebrate all the hard work our students have been doing.
It’s amazing how much these kids have grown during the past year. The outgoing Seniors were giving speeches, encouraging the Juniors to commit to something bigger than themselves and to always work hard. They spoke with surprising intelligence and shared their hopes and dreams for the future.
When they announced the incoming President of the National Honor Society, it was a bright, motivated, wonderful boy that I remember playing in the sandbox with my daughter when he was just 4 years old. All of us who have watched this young man grow up cheered. We shook his Dad’s hand and felt like we had all won something.
Now, not every kid will be a Super Genius. Some of them will always be middle of the road students, while others will struggle just to keep their heads above water. It may take a lot longer for these kids to “become something,” but then again, there were quite a few adults who thought that kid, Albert Einstein, was completely hopeless.
Sure, maybe some of them are lazy, pie-in-the-sky do-nothings. But weren’t some of us exactly the same way when we were young? I read a story once about a seemingly shiftless young man who spent his days sitting around on his college campus, discussing politics and philosophy, studying and partying, and telling girls who loved him “thank you” while he committed to nothing. That man was Barack Obama, our current president. Whether he’s your idea of a hero or an anti-hero, there’s no arguing that he’s achieved a whole lot more than some people ever thought possible.
I’ve heard it said that this generation isn’t up to the challenges they will face. Maybe we should just remember: they need conditions to be right to establish themselves before they can share their beauty and promise with the world.
Want to give your brain a boost? Here are some great dinner ideas that can help, including grilled salmon with tomatoes and basil, bean burgers with spicy guacamole, grilled halibut salmon nicoise and more.
Here are some tips to help boost everyone’s brain power, young and old:
So…what’s your favorite “dis” about the youngsters today? Do you know someone who gives you hope for the future? What’s your favorite brain food? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!