My childhood played out in the '70s and my adolescence was fine-tuned in the '80s, so despite a legitimate fear of the ocean thanks to fictional cinema, I grew up a genius.
OK, maybe not an actual genius but definitely brilliant – especially compared with my kids at that age. Diplomas aside, I’m sorry, what in the world happened to street smarts?
I grew up knowing things. Cool things. Important things. I could Name That Tune in three notes. I could get anywhere with directions taped to my dashboard (because my friend’s neighbor’s cousin had just traveled there so I knew which Sunoco station to pass then make the next left). I knew precisely how fast I’d have to run home to make curfew for every minute I’d chosen to overstay my good time. I’d mastered public transportation by age 13. (That was just sink or swim – seriously, whose parents were driving them anywhere?) The things I didn’t know I just sort of figured out, usually by spying on the older kids making out under the street lights.
My kids most definitely could never have swung a covert six-hour road trip to a Genesis concert at the Syracuse dome without GPS OR alerting any parents. They wouldn’t know how to stash two friends in the nearby bushes while hitching to a movie. (Ooh, big disclaimer here: kids, do NOT try this today. There wasn’t any crime back then and no internet to scare us about it if there was, so this reckless act would definitely not be considered brilliant today.) Our refrains of the Reagan era remain to this day: How are we even alive? Or better, Did we even have parents?
When one of my sons (birth order has been redacted to protect the humiliated) graduated high school, he texted me at work to ask if I had a template he could use for his Thank You cards. Wait, wut?
A friend told me her son sent cash to the DMV to pay his $400 speeding ticket. The worst part? They actually accepted it so now he thinks his mom’s a nagging lunatic that needs to chill out.
Another’s kid peeled out and sped away from the police after being pulled over – then he forgot to turn off his headlights after he’d successfully ducked into a random driveway down a side street.
Good lord. Am I the only one with concerns?
My kids fully acknowledge my stealth upbringing ruined them. Getting past me with red eyes or minty breath? Not a chance. Skipping school? Fuhgeddaboudit. They were doomed from the start.
They can keep their TikTok; I will forget more in my lifetime than my kids will ever learn.
Good thing they’ve got itty bitty computers in their pockets. If only those were ever charged.
*Disclosure: I submitted this piece to a bi-annual Erma Bombeck contest which is sponsored by the sweet local library in her sweet little hometown in Ohio. It was my first time and I gave it a shot. It wasn’t selected but after reading the sweet winning entries I can guess if I ever try again I’ll leave out the hitchhiking, evading police and lying to parents parts (laughing emoji). Lesson learned! Next time, next time!
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and recently was featured in Huff Post. She appeared in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook & @Eyerollingmom on Instagram. Her collection of essays, A Momoir, can be found here (agent interest ALWAYS WELCOME!)