I came to a conclusion today. I am bitter. It is true. However I am not alone in my bitterness as I have also realized that there have been those before me who were also bitter for the same reason. I believe there is a legacy of bitterness. Do you remember when you were a kid when your folks or relatives or some grown-up would say to you how lucky you were as when they were a kid they had it rough? Both my parents grew up in the depression/WWII days so I got lots of stories about how hard they had it. And they did. They legitimately did. And I had it easy compared to them. And so it continues…
I was talking to my cousin, LBo, the other day, and as always the topic of what her two girls, ages 17 and 18, are doing lately comes up. Inevitably she tells me that they doing something that incites intense jealousy in me. While I am so happy that they get to do such cool stuff there is a little voice in my head that yells, “OH MAN!!! We never had that when I was a kid! I'm so seriously fucking envious of these teenagers!” And then I feel like a nasty old curmudgeon shit.
So I realized that when those adults in my past who said I had an easy life were in actuality bitter. And I am bitter too.
My cousin’s kids went to summer camp and they rode horses and did archery and really cool stuff like that. When I went to camp we made crafts out of bark. We roasted weenies over a fire. Holy crap, that was exciting. A real fire. One not in a dumpster. (I was a city child) I can remember what a big deal a canoe was. We didn’t get to ride in one but there were some at the dock. But there were no horses or arrows or specially trained counselors complete with CPR training and early development education. Our minders were drunk teenagers. And there were no seatbelts on the bus either.
Kids now have teachers who care. They have teachers who know about ADD, ADHD, peanut allergies, learning disabilities, substance abuse, negligent parents, and childhood illness. Parents also are actually involved in their kids schooling and call and complain if there are any problems. Nobody did that when I was a kid. Kids with learning problems or behavior issues were just called bad and sent to the principal’s office. If you were not doing well in a particular class you failed and then took summer school. There were no parent/teacher conferences or special tutors brought in. You were just left behind. I had never even heard of a peanut allergy until I was in my 20’s. I guess my anaphylactic classmates just wheezed their way through lunch hour.
Nobody used to care if you were harassed by a bully. I know I never even bothered to complain about it as I knew there was no point. You had to suck it up and just run faster. Nowadays there are Anti-Bully Coalition Committees and videos and reading material and everything. Bullies are actually singled out and frowned upon. Other kids ‘out’ bullies to their elders. They are the losers opposed to the victims. Bullies are no longer cool.
I had an English teacher in high school who used to turn off the heat and open the windows in his classroom so we were all cold and therefore awake and paying attention. We were not allowed to wear our coats. Nowadays that guy would be stoned to death in the playground by angry parents. And then sued multiple times.
That kind of shit is no longer tolerated so yeah, I am bitter. My cousin’s kids go to a special creative high school where there are dance and TV production classes. Artistic ability and individuality are not only celebrated but encouraged. However, I was called ‘Drama Fag’ for my participation in school plays. When I was a kid the only thing praised in school was athletic ability. There were no such things as special high schools for creative kids. Coaches practiced such archaic methods like letting student captains (always the best jocks) pick their own team. If you were small and slow and nearsighted like I was gym was the ultimate humiliation. My gym teacher used to encourage the kids to tease me. He called me ‘useless’ himself. That never happens anymore. Now that is considered ‘unhealthy.’
Yeah, I am really bitter. Kids these days have cell phones and DVD players in the car and belly button rings and wear grown up clothes. I had the joy of my little brother’s company in the backseat of the family car and his only diversion was bugging me. We rattled around the back without seatbelts. I wore gauchos and the only body piercing I ever saw was on those National Geographic films. We had one phone in the house and one TV and we watched what was on basic cable and we were thankful.
Well, now I am not. Now I am pissed. Dooce even posted about it today. There are special flavored medicines. Not to mention online homework help and video games. Kid oriented TV channels and DVDs. We had Saturday morning cartoons and the Sunday night Disney show. Otherwise we were forced to read. An actual book. OMG!
Kids are now marketed to. Society rejects spankings. Children are considered more equals opposed to second class citizens. HEY! Admit it. Kids have it better now. Nothing is too good for them. Their opinions count. I don’t say they always necessarily have it easier. There are more pressures. Our big temptations were beer and maybe some hash oil that so-and-so’s brother got from a guy in some alley. Now there is meth and crack and manufactured thrills like that. Yet overall I think kids have it better. I think kids are encouraged more and have far more opportunities to express themselves.
So yeah. I am sitting here writing about how jealous I am of little kids. It is official. I’m old. Old, sick, bitter and twisted.
Are you envious of kids today? Or do you think life is harder?