Native Writes: Kids today


Following my middle granddaughter’s 17th birthday celebration, I began to think about teenagers.

Long ago, I was growling about my own teen sons to an old friend, the late Buddy Edelen, and he launched into song. He had just appeared in an Adams State production of “Bye Bye Birdie.”

“Kids, I don't know what's wrong with these kids today? Kids, who can understand anything they say? Kids, they are so ridiculous and so immature. Kids, what the devil's wrong with these kids today? Kids, who could guess that they would turn out that way? Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way?”

Buddy could always make me laugh.

The play was based in the 1950’s when Elvis Presley was leaving for the military. Girls wept, forgot to starch their crinolines, perky pony tail bows drooped. What would we do without the King?

Boys went on with life. They combed their hair back with sticky stuff, trying for that Elvis look. They rolled their short shirt sleeves up and drooled over the latest Chevy model on the sales room floor of a nearby dealership. Clods, all of them. How could they not share the female woe?

Just don’t mention Pat Boone.

If it were based in 2018, the father figure would probably wonder how to get the kids to put down their electronics and speak.

I asked my eldest granddaughter after I had shouted loudly enough that she heard me despite her ear buds.

Her reply? “Mnph? Meh.”

Okay, I know. In 1956, it was difficult to understand what kids had to say. We spoke, but in our own language.

Back to 2018. The teenagers walking out of school, gathering outside state capitols and the White House are very articulate and the grandkids can be if one can get past the electronic barricades. While I was bemoaning the closing of Alamosa’s book store, my best friend said he knew why.

“Your phone can give you information, a book to read, a video or whatever. Libraries are next to go.”

I use my phone to talk and receive text messages. My middle son can make it access music, videos and information, but I won’t. I love printed books that I can mark the last page read with a memorial bookmark.

When the oldest granddaughter comes to visit, the laptop is her domain until it’s time to eat. She puts it aside until she dines, then catches up where she left off. Her fare? Art and instruction videos, which she turns into projects at home.

The middle girl doesn’t do much with her phone until she is apart from the boyfriend, then her fingers fly. She texts faster than I can type. Asked if I could see, she replied, “No. What are you?”

“I’m a grandma.”

I think whoever cracked the first sarcophagus from a pyramid had the same look on his or her face:

“I am witnessing something really old.”

That commanded a quick change of subject. I suddenly recalled when my dad stood next to me, his ear next to mine so he could hear my conversation with a boyfriend. Some things must remain unshared.

My grandson isn’t worried. He watches short films on his phone. I think he may text, but he doesn’t let it show.

He obviously memorized the “Little Brother Style Book.” He teases and pranks them unmercifully, until his oldest sister tells him to “shove it.”

I think that means “put a sock in it.”

Someone needs to write a book for today’s grandparents, helping those of us who grew up on ‘50s and ‘60s slang understand teenagers.

Don’t ask me. According to the youngsters, this dinosaur says some really old- fashioned things.

Mmph. Meh. I don’t know what this means, but I can say it. So there.

Kids. Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in any way?

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