I was discussing family with my buddy Fletch during a break in recording a podcast for his employer, business communications provider Avaya.
“I want to be a ‘parential,’” he said
“You want to reappear ever year?” I asked, assuming I’d heard him utter “perennial,” the name given to garden plants that magically return each spring, despite zero effort from the garden’s owner. My favorite type of plants, incidentally.
“No, pa-RENT-i-al,” he said, accenting each syllable. “A new demographic comprised of anyone with kids.”
I’d be all in favor of surrendering my baby boomer status, a label slapped on anyone born between approximately 1945 and 1964. As someone sired in 1962, I’ve always felt it grossly unfair to be lumped in with citizens who entered the world shortly after the Japanese surrendered in World War II and now spend their days playing croquet in retirement communities while awaiting their next Social Security checks. I don’t even own a croquet mallet. Yet.
“Think about it,” Fletch continued. “The millennials are getting all the attention right now, with their organic food requests and their right-swipe dating apps.”
“Their ‘safe spaces’ and their trigger warnings,” I added.
“Exactly,” he said. “And we, their parents, have to deal with them on a daily basis. I think we should be recognized with our own demographic, the parential generation.”
“But some parents ARE millennials,” I noted. “What are we going to do with them?”
“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “In the eyes of your children, you are, by definition, less cool and hip simply because you’re a parent. Sure, those 30-year-olds with kids can strap on their wearable fitness tracking devices and then finish their workouts with protein shakes bursting with chia seeds. But they will still be classified as parentials.”
“Giving them license to blame their shortcomings and annoying traits on their status,’ I added
“You got it.”
The term sounded so simple, so logical, I figured it must already be in use. A Google search revealed that yes, it’s being bandied about on Twitter as a hashtag, mostly by teens referring to, or complaining about, their parents. Example? “It’s all awkward in the house. Just me and the #parentials.”
But as an entire class? Hasn’t happened. And yet it’s sooooo necessary for those of us trying to stay abreast of the latest technologies and behaviors that accompany the “Millennial Way,” knowing our children are silently mocking us no matter how many Twitter followers we’ve amassed.
Now we no longer have to feel such pressure to adapt. Instead of feeling like we have to order our Starbucks with the prepaid app, we can begin, and end, the transaction at the drive through, even thrusting a handful of change at the barista if we so choose. If a young millennial behind us looks annoyed, we can simply roll down our window, turn to our rear and say, “Parentials are allowed to use coins. Back off!”
As a parential, we have permission to use the latest social media apps but also use accompanying terminology in the wrong context. During our next FaceTime session with our children from their dorm rooms, Greek houses or off-campus apartments, we can, without penalty of ridicule, exclaim that we should add a geofilter to the conversation. If our child’s roommate laughs uncontrollably upon hearing us incorrectly using Snapchat lingo while navigating an iPhone feature, so be it. Gosh darn it, we’re parentials.
NOTE: We also are perfectly within our rights to say “gosh darn” whenever we feel like it.
Parentials can purchase movie tickets via our phones, but our status allows us to opt for the 7 p.m. show rather than the 9:30. Our Instagram accounts can now include inspirational song lyrics — from Bon Jovi. We’re entitled to, at the last minute, pile Kit-Kat pieces on our fat-free froyo because we have kids and hey, they’ve been annoying us all day.
Our texts can include incorrect emojis; we can peek at paper maps and compare the route to whatever Waze recommends; if we want to drop party invitations in a mailbox as opposed to using Evite, that’s our prerogative.
Take note, America, the parential generation has arrived.
In our own cars because we still don’t trust Uber.