Lisa writes: The generation gap that separated me from my parents was defined by our views on music, sex, skirt lengths, the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon’s presidency. My whole goal in shopping was to buy things my parents hated. But my children and I like the same music, have similar politics and shop for clothes in the same stores. The issues that separate me from my offspring are of an entirely different nature.
Where has the generation gap gone? Once defined by cultural touchstones and political splits, the gap that divides the generations is now far more subtle, defined by differences in outlook and attitude, rather than fundamental beliefs.
My sons think nothing of leaving the house and venturing out in public in their PJ bottoms. This has been a recurring nightmare of mine since 1971.
I use cash. They use credit for any purchase over 24 cents.
Julie Burton, a Grown and Flown friend, writes: I finally took a breath. My daughter, who is finishing high school, called less than 24 hours ago and said, “Another girl was supposed to have the senior skip day party but now she can’t so it’s okay that I told people they could come to our house, right?”
“Isn’t senior skip day tomorrow?” I asked tentatively.
“Yes, but I don’t think everyone will come, ” she said with a touch of panic in her voice.
“There are 80 seniors, right?” My mind raced to figure out how I could pull this off as my husband was out of town, I was headed to my son’s baseball game, had another commitment after his game, a meeting first thing the next morning and two more later that afternoon.
“Ok, Sophie,” I said softly.
“Thanks, mom, I gotta go, I’ll call you later.”
Mary Dell writes: At the end of every month, I tear off another page of our oversize family calendar and toss the tattered sheet away. April lands in the recycling bin and I am gleeful. There, on the last line for May, is the gateway to summer: Memorial Day Weekend.
At Grown and Flown, our friend and neighbor, Renee Cohen, is chef/instructor of CuisineArts Cooking School and supplied much of the culinary inspiration for this Memorial Day cookout.
1. Lemonade with fresh mint
Mix together the juice of 10 lemons, 6 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, 3 sprigs mint. Adjust to taste and add 8 sprigs of mint. Refrigerate and serve in tall glasses with a sprig of mint in each.
2. Watermelon margaritas
This recipe is from the late, great Gourmet magazine: Cut up a watermelon into cubes, place in Ziplock bag and freeze overnight. Place the frozen watermelon (5 cups), 1 cup Tequila, 1/2 cup Triple Sec, 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, and 1/4 cup sugar in a blender and blend until the consistency is slushy. Serve in margarita glasses.
Lisa writes: What was I thinking?
I have just about finished raising my kids. My youngest has one foot out the door and only senior year in high school stands in the way of his liberation. I know exactly how he feels. During my senior year, I put a huge wall calendar on my bedroom wall and crossed off each day with a black X.
As if that were not enough, I counted backwards from the day I would leave home so that every morning I could stare at the number of days until my release. As a parent I have often thought that my parents must have felt terrible seeing these markings on my calendar, just one step away from a prisoner scratching a tally into the side of her cell wall.
Except that I don’t think my parents felt bad. Yes, they were sorry to see me go, as they would be when my brothers followed, but their life was not about me. Their identity was not about me. And their universe certainly did not revolve around me. In this I think my family was like many others in the 1970s and 1980s.
Yet despite our generation’s belief that “we turned out just fine,” we decided to bring up our children entirely differently than we were brought up. In fact, we only trot out the phrase, “we turned out just fine” when something about our parenting has gone wrong.
Here is where we differed:
Mary Dell writes: My son, our eldest child, will celebrate his college graduation this weekend. Today, while I sit in the kitchen, I read the fine words of another mom whose child recently graduated. I begin to imagine the moment when our son’s name is called and he walks onto the stage to receive his diploma. I feel a familiar maternal adrenaline rush beginning to rise and recognize it as the same one I have felt every time I waited for my child to stride onto a stage or take his place at home plate. But I also sense a new ingredient. After the ceremony concludes and we drive back home, he will no longer be our “school child.” Exactly what will replace that two-decade long identity takes me to the edge of a parental abyss.
No longer will his schedule, and ours with him, be dictated by a calendar of September- May. The school schedule, with its rock-solid predictability, provided the foundation on which his life in the classroom and the sports field was built. For three months each summer, the structure relaxed but sprang back to life in the final days of August. Then, before the first class began, we bought new school clothes (last year’s were always too small, too short) and new supplies to load into a crumb-free backpack. The obligatory first day of school photos now fill our albums, shoeboxes and flash drives.
After Sunday’s college graduation, we will begin a new era with our son. We will place graduation photos in last pages in his childhood photo album, close it and put it away.
Lisa writes: Last Fall, in the wake of a number of high-profile cheating scandals, Grown and Flown examined cheating in school. We were surprised by some of the facts we uncovered. Technology, academic pressure and changing attitudes have increased the incidence of cheating in school and made it even more important that parents discuss this issue with kids from an early age. It was our good fortune that The Wall Street Journal found us and included us in an article this morning entitled “How Could a Sweet Third-Grader Just Cheat on That School Exam?”
In this wonderful piece, Sue Shellenbarger finds that cheating is tricky parental terrain “The line between right and wrong in the classroom is often hazy for young children, and shaping the moral compass of children whose brains are still developing can be one of the trickiest jobs a parent faces.” Shellenbarger found that rates of cheating rose as kids moved into middle school and high school and thus the conversation needs to start when school begins, as early as kindergarten.
Lisa writes: This morning, The New York Times posted a wonderful article, “After the Children have Grown,” about motherhood and the transition to the empty nest. The author, noted psychologist Madeline Levine, confirms what Anna Quindlen has often said, that the real empty nest begins the day our youngest child graduates from college. Yet Levine takes a different look at our children’s separation as not a single moment but rather one more step on a long path of pain and happiness that is parenting. She explains,
Motherhood inextricably weaves growth and loss together from the moment of physical separation at birth to every milestone passed.
Yet she finds that, in some ways, parents are unprepared for this transition despite the fact that we should have seen it coming.