Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When Did I Become Obsolete?

A recent study showed that more women in my age demographic have remained childless, for whatever reason, than ever before. It makes me feel a little less weird, I suppose, but I had my reasons- the foremost being that I was medically advised against it on repeated occasions.

Another is that I've never married. Oh, I've gotten close a few times; I've even been engaged twice, but it's never quite worked out. In my mother's family, you don't have children outside marriage- you have a shotgun wedding, if necessary, but that's only happened among the men- with the exception of my cousin Dan, whose significant other presented us with the charming Rose about three years ago. The family closed rank, absorbing Rose into the fold without question or comment, because "that's how these kids do it nowadays" (I don't think anyone was more stunned than Dan himself when this happened). Knowing their somewhat misogynistic bent, though, I don't think they'd roll with it if one of the girls did anything similar.

The other reason is that I'm pretty sure I got a dose of both of my parents' tempers; my mother's was a sarcastic, tightly controlled anger, and my father's was legendarily explosive. I got a handle on my own temper in high school, shifting more to Mom's mode of delivery: if I go off on somebody, they'll be using a dictionary and a thesaurus for the next month to figure out how much of a burn I've actually laid on them. Either way, these aren't particularly good traits to have as a parent.

In short, the only context I have for my observations on children/youth and the current state of their affairs is my own childhood and adolescence. In the last couple of days, a friend of mine who is a teacher kind of put me squarely in my place about it by pointing out that I'm older and, more to the point in his opinion, out of touch with "today's reality". Painful though it is, I guess he's right, but there were more tactful ways of putting it. I'm acutely aware that I don't have children who would better connect me with the current state of affairs, that I'm 'old-fashioned', and that apparently, my personal experiences count for nothing because they took place in the Mesozoic Era. It was also a bit patronizing, since I do happen to work with college students freshly hatched from high school and I know how they think and learn...that's something about which I do have a qualified opinion.

As Weird Al so succintly puts it, "Everything You Know is Wrong"- I'm just an antique spinster with obsolete experiences and no right to an opinion regarding anything child-related.

No comments: