When I was a tween and teen, the girls surrounding the rock stars and celebrities of my dreams seemed so old and mature. I was fifteen when Simon Le Bon married the then-twenty-one-year-old Yasmin Parvaneh. She might as well have been fifty for as elderly as she seemed to me.
This morning, I realized how young the same girl-gaggles are now. When I was fifteen, twenty-one seemed grown and experienced. At forty-five, I look at twenty-one and want to get it a glass of water, tuck it in at night, and pat its back until it falls asleep because…sweet babies!
And you’ve got Adele over here, at twenty-five, writing about “when we were young.” Bless her heart.
A darling girl recently told me about how her elementary school had tried to teach her to use Excel in second and third grades. This is how old I am: Not only had Excel not been invented when I was a third-grader, but I learned how to calculate using an actual abacus.
In my twenties, I could easily fantasize about Rupert Everett seeing me from across a crowded room, and falling in love at first sight. This is because there was no internet to inform me that the only reason he might notice me is because I’d walked in front of the hot guy he’d been eyeballing. And thank goodness because I enjoyed those imaginary meet-cutes.
I was thinking about some of the things that are different for my son.
- He is able to watch serialized cartoons in order. I loved Star Blazers, but since it was played on UHF channel 24, I only got to watch what they wanted to show me. I’ve still never seen the episodes in order. I guess I could now… Battle of the Planets was my favorite, but it wasn’t even regularly scheduled. It just showed up when it showed up, and I was glad to get it. My little dude has had his own DVR file since he was old enough to express a preference for Curious George.
- While my son has seen, and used landline phones, he has never lived in a world without a smart phone. He has no idea what a phone book is, or what 4-1-1 is, or how to call time-and-temperature and stay on the line, waiting for the call-waiting beep of your best friend ringing you at the appointed midnight hour, so that your parents didn’t hear the phone, and ground you for talking after bedtime. He has no idea what it means to have someone else pick up a landline phone while you are talking.
- He has no concept of why any night of the week has ever been must-watch-TV. Why would anyone bother sitting down to watch a show as it airs? You can watch shows any time you feel like it. If you miss the show, so what? I’ll tell you what! If you miss the season finale, you have to wait until summer re-runs and WATCH THE ENTIRE SEASON OF EPISODES AGAIN TO GET TO THE FINALE AGAIN! And by that time, everyone has already told you what happened.
- There are no phone booths, but he knows exactly how to find a charging station, or a hot spot. I spent I don’t know how many hours hanging around phone booths in Manhattan one summer, while a friend tried to rent an apartment. We would go to the phone booth, she would PAGE her realtor (like, call his pager, and leave the phone booth phone number on the pager) and then we would stand there waiting for him to call back and tell us where to meet him. And then, if we weren’t sure how to get there, we would have to go to a bodega and hope there was a map we could look at for free!
- Actual paper maps are things he will never use. He will never buy a Mapsco. He will never know the frustration of trying to refold a road map. He will never sit down and plot a course on paper
- He has never known life without a remote control, a computer, instant access to the internet, central air and heat, debit cards, ATM machines, online banking, online shopping, or on-demand entertainment. He will never shop at a record store, a video store, or hope someone snuck a tape recorder into a concert.
- He has never used a blackboard, or banged erasers, and has no concept of that awful sound the metal made when the teacher would drag the staff liner across the chalkboard to make lines for handwriting practice.
8. For that matter, he has no idea what handwriting practice is, outside of what I made him do–and I didn’t make him do that much.