I’ve been paying close attention to the ubiquitous catchphrase “Millennials,” which refers to the new crop of young adults who will be entering the workforce and taking over for the tens of thousands of retiring baby boomers. Born between 1980 and 1995, it seems this group has had the dubious distinction of being coddled their entire life and has subsequently spent the last two decades hearing doting parents and teachers alike insist “You’re special!” and “You’re number one!”
Funny. It turns out if kids hear something like this long enoug,h kids tends to believe it: according to the grumblings this future working class apparently has little regard for authority and worse, a less than reverent approach to protocol and procedure. Look out people: when the Millennials take over, flip flops on Fridays will be the least of their demands.
I’m becoming increasingly interested in this subject for a couple of reasons. First off, my husband’s profession is smack-dab within employee recognition and – specifically – employee retention. This oncoming cattle rush of E-Bay employees willing to take their services to the highest bidder whenever something doesn’t go their way concerns a corporate America that relies heavily on longevity and loyalty. But that’s just him and his white collar world. My main motivation for concern lies in the significant fact that I am presently nurturing two creatures that fall into this well, coddled category: yep; teenagers.
For the record, I believe my kids are far from coddled. I’d like to think I’m doing my part to keep society sane because – get a load of this: I don’t give my kids whatever they ask for — but it turns out I’m not exactly the majority. Some days I feel as if I’m swimming against a tide of teenage entitlement because absurd entitlement abounds elsewhere in their lives.
On town ball fields my kids learned to play scoreless soccer. Seriously. Did it ever occur to anyone that if kids are old enough to understand the rules of a team sport… they might also be able to count the number of times a ball gets kicked into a net? And while official play books are manned and statistics are recorded during their little league games, nope, there’s no score kept there either. Everybody plays. Everybody runs around the bases. Everybody gets a big shiny trophy at the end of the season – just for participating. For real.
I recently attended a school concert which began with not one but four vocal solos in a row. None were outstanding. At first I thought it was me; perhaps my benchmarks for preteen warbling were unrealistic (damn that dreaded “American Idol”) or worse, perhaps I’m completely tone deaf from all my screaming about chores. When I casually looked around and saw other parents with pained, confused expressions, I knew it wasn’t just me. While it was uncomfortable enough to sit through, it was more mind-boggling when the reason became clear: those teenage girls were shamelessly standing alone at a microphone simply because they had asked to. No exceptional talent was required because really, everyoneone is talented, right?
My kids have stayed after school to “finish” taking tests. They’ve also taken a test and then have re-taken it again and again until the grade is acceptable to them. Whatever happened to “time’s up/pencils down”? And where were these teachers twenty-five years ago when I was taking my Calculus final?
It may not take a village but it’s certainly going to take more than just me to get things turned around here. If I’m willing to endure round-the-clock declarations of unfairness or continuous accusations of “worst mom ever” I’d like a little support from the trenches.
I don’t need Dr. Phil; I just need other parents (and maybe the occasional coach or music teacher) to band with me and tell these kids that real life provides rewards for hard work.
And it is NOT okay to return to our homes indefinitely once college is over (God help me).
And there IS something wrong with showing up late to work.
And by the power of Thor, flip flops are always going to be wrong, wrong, wrong in a cubicle.
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