Generation Gap

I like the gap.  Differences between generations feel right to me.  I enjoy being with our children and then I enjoy being with people closer to my own age, who begin sentences with “Remember when?”

Remember when we danced to Motown?  And sang Doo Wop together?  Remember that first Bob Newhart album?  Remember when Richard Burton appeared on Broadway and all the women fell in love with him but Elizabeth Taylor got him?  Remember how our parents weren’t interested in Elvis, but then they were?  Remember when Ray Charles had his first big hit?  Remember our favorite kids’ shows on radio that turned into television shows?  It’s comfortable having history together.

When I was in my teens, we didn’t call the progression from child to adult anything at all.  We weren’t teenagers or adolescents.  We weren’t known as anything except somebody’s kid.  Since our generation didn’t have a name, we also didn’t call the spaces between us and others a gap.  The term “generation gap” began to be tossed around during the blooming season of the flower children when we were cautioned not to trust anyone over 30.

Too late.  I was already looking forward to being an adult.  In my teens I admired women who were 20 and 30.  I wanted to look like them, dress like them, and somehow achieve the mysterious sophistication those women seemed to own. 

Today, adolescence is so prolonged that sometimes the new generation doesn’t seem to get started at all, and it’s eaten away at what I consider a natural distance between kids and parents.  Terms like “rejuvenile” and “boomerang babies” describe people in their 30’s and 40’s going back to live with their parents.  But while their grown children were away, some of  the older folks were taking care of themselves, eating right, exercising, developing new interests, buying new clothes, and generally making it harder to tell who’s who.

I’d hate to see us close the gap completely.  What have we got to look forward to, if kids don’t want to grow up and parents don’t want to be their own age either?  Just a long, blurry couple of decades where each generation waits out the other to see who’ll blink first?

Ó By Anita Garner

4 thoughts on “Generation Gap”

  1. I was thinking of “the gap” just today, when Tom Petty played the Super Bowl half time show and for the first time in years, I enjoyed it. At the same time, I wondered who all those kids were in the audience that seemed to be enjoying it too!

  2. I also noticed that quite a few of those kids actually knew the words. I recall being amazed when a friend’s 16 yr old daughter told me a 44 yr old at the time that she was a huge Joni Mitchell fan as I am and then she proceeded to sing “Song For Sharon” my favorite song of Joni’s. I have to say that it felt good to have a perceived “gap” connection, if only for that moment. But then again, isn’t life filled with ‘moments’? I’ve not forgotten that and every time I see my friends daughter who is now 20, I smile….and we proceed to sing “Song For Sharon”.

  3. Maybe it’s just cynical ol’ me, but I suspect that if you approached five of today’s typical “mall rats” and asked their opinion of the current gap … four of the five would complain that “they never have anything in my size” — while the fifth one probably thinks you’re talkin’ about the zone between his belt and butt crack.

    Well, at least their self esteem is in tact.

    Have a keen day, kids. : – )

  4. I agree it’s interesting and affirming that our adult children share some of our tastes in music and even ideas, but I do think there’s a generation gap. I’m just not sure we see it. One sign is the excitement over Barak Obama and the suspicion younger voters have for even long-time progressives like Hillary Clinton. Another is the fatigue young people have with old versions of race and gender. Though we feel as “cool” and even as “liberal” as we always did, it may turn out that unless we allow the world to move past our sixties music, rhetoric and nostalgia, Boomers will become the “old guard” we fought so hard against! I hope we can explore and celebrate the future, even if it means letting go.

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