What I had originally planned to say about the Generation Gap has changed completely in the past week or so, since I prepared to teach a lesson in church this past Sunday on the dangers of pride.
It’s kind of funny that a lesson about pride would change my view of something like “kids these days!” But I’m glad it did.
Let me back up a bit, though.
I’ve had more than a few shake-my-head moments over the past year as I’ve been getting to know Chris’s kids. Their current ages are 12 and 8 and they are both very good at those ages. They have mastered all the good and bad bits that go with being a 12-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl.
And they have their quirks and odd habits, as all people do. I’m sure they think I’m downright weird and/or crazy with some of the things I do, but that’s okay because I AM weird and I’m not supposed to call myself crazy even though I probably am.
But anyway, no, I never REALLY started to think about this glaringly obvious generation gap thing until about two weeks ago when I was hanging out with The Nephew. Who is now 10 years old.
(How did that even happen? He was barely TWO when this blog came into the world.)
So I picked up The Nephew from school and took him home. He’d finished all of his homework at his after school Fun Club, so that was good. I didn’t have to worry about that. Instead, I could worry about ordering a pizza for dinner through the Dominos app. I love watching the process from the time the order is submitted to the time it goes out for delivery. The Nephew used to be OBSESSED with this feature, and every time something updated, I excitedly tried to show him the next phase. The Nephew, on the other hand, worried about resetting the wireless router because the laptop wasn’t picking up the WiFi.
Once he got it working, he proceeded to spend the next couple of hours (interspersed with brief conversations with me and a moment or two to stop and eat his pizza) on that laptop, watching YouTube videos of some guy playing video games. Granted, the guy was doing some REALLY cool tricks and things in these video games, but still. At one point, I commented, “Why don’t you go actually PLAY a game instead of watching some other guy play them?” And he answered, “Because I don’t have this game.” That was followed by a silent, but totally implied DUH.
So he’s watching videos of some guy playing games he doesn’t even own. And these aren’t 2 minutes to take a quick peek videos. These are 20 minutes, advancing through levels videos.
And the thing is, Chris’s kids do the same thing. They can spend hours (when they’re allowed, which isn’t often) watching videos of other people having fun.
Where’s the fun in that?
So I posted a message on Facebook about this very subject and was floored by the responses I got back from several of my friends, all of whom are parents, and ALL of whom are keenly aware of this new thing the kids are doing called Watch Other People Have Fun.
Apparently, it’s a thing.
And the kids are ALL about it.
And I REALLY don’t get it.
So I started crying, “Kids these days!” to anyone who would listen. And I became keenly aware that I sounded exactly like my Auntie Leila who died many years ago at the age of 872. Except that Auntie Leila usually followed those statements up with an appreciative chuckle. She wasn’t annoyed by the younger generations. She was charmed by them.
But, honestly, we were out there HAVING FUN! We weren’t letting other people have fun for us so that we could watch it later.
I thought and thought about this. What can I do to encourage the children in my life to get out there and have experiences of their own? What sorts of adventures can I plan for and with them so that, at the very least, THEY can be the ones making the videos that other kids are watching.
And then I started planning this lesson for Relief Society (the Women’s Group) at church. I teach one Sunday per month, and I love it.
The lesson was from the teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, a deceased former President of the Church. It was taken from a talk he gave years ago called “Beware of Pride.” It’s a fantastic read and I highly recommend it.
Anyway, as I was preparing my lesson, based on a talk I have listened to and read countless times in my life, a line stood out to me that I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. At least, not in the same way.
Another face of pride is contention. Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, generation gaps, divorces, spouse abuse, riots, and disturbances all fall into this category of pride. –President Ezra Taft Benson
That line hit me pretty hard. Pride is contention. And contention comes in many forms, including that crazy generation gap.
And I started thinking a lot about how I can’t just try to coerce the kiddos into doing what I want them to do. What I think they should enjoy. I mean, yes, I should definitely offer them new experiences based on what I think they might like, but I can’t force them into it. And I certainly can’t nag and bug them about the things that they DO enjoy, whether I understand it or not.
I need to understand them. To try to see things from their point of view. Even if I don’t necessarily agree with it, I need to do a better job of just simply understanding them. And acknowledging that our interests are going to be different because our lives are different and our personalities and interests are different.
And that’s OK.
So what had originally started as a rant about those crazy kids and all the things they are and aren’t doing that I think they should and shouldn’t be, my attitude has changed. Instead, I’m going to do a better job of asking questions. Not questions like, “How can you listen to that crap??” but more like, “Tell me what it is you like about this particular singer/actor/movie/video game YouTuber.”
I may not ever fully get it. But at least I can try. And if I put in a little bit of effort to understand them, maybe they won’t be so quick to dismiss the things I like and want to introduce to them.
But I’m not holding my breath for that!