pop rocks: 2 parts, coke: 1 part, then mix


If one is as prone to falling hook, line and sinker for Generational Theory the way I am, several storylines make a lot of sense from the 1970s until now. The beef with the Silent Generation (born 1925-1942) was that they went through the sexual revolution at the same time the Boomers did, during the late sixties. The problem was, unlike the Boomers, the Silents already had kids, making the little ones suffer through their parents’ sexual awakening and key parties. Cue divorce, latchkey kid syndrome, and basically MY generation.

Thus us kids born in the sixties and seventies grew up with a presently-unacceptable amount of danger: no bike helmet laws, lots of eating food off the floor, sitting three inches from the TV, and popping Thalidomide like aspirin. Or, in the case of my family, it was long stretches of untethered drifting followed by periodic bursts of hellish micromanagement. Your mileage might have varied.

Enter the Boomers having kids in the 80s and 90s. I haven’t done the comparative research, so don’t hold me to this, but the Boomers’ kids are the most protected, coddled, mollified, drugged, organized, litigated and structured children in the history of the planet. The Simpsons, as usual, say it best with the omnipresent woman at every school event who wails “won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?!?

And now, as is evidenced by my blog entry of last Friday, it is our turn to have kids. Back when we were working on the generational books, I gave a lot of thought to how I would raise future children, even though it was to be another decade before Lucy showed up. I kept coming to the same conclusion: a monitored freedom. Take the barefoot learn-for-themselves quality of the 70s that I had, and mix it with the digital know-how and research of the present day.

As many of you with babies know, that is a tightrope the width of a human hair. There’s so much information about what your kiddie is ingesting – in the womb, in breastmilk, and in the lungs – that sometimes you just want to hermetically seal your brood inside a giant bottle of Purell.

This is especially a big conflict when it comes to certain drugs a parent needs to emotionally survive, and the conflicting reports of what the drug may or may not do to your little tyke. In circumstances when it seems like all the research is inconclusive, and nobody really knows anything, Tessa and I developed a rule we call the In Case of A Drop in Cabin Pressure Syndrome, shortened to The Oxygen Mask Rule.

When you’re on the plane, the flight attendants always tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then tend to your children. I’ve always thought this made a lot of sense in pretty much all aspects of childrearing.

Your kid is hearty and chances are it’s going to flourish. You, on the other hand, are prone to the vicissitudes of your insane situation. Fix yourself first, keep yourself functioning, and then concentrate on the child.

I don’t mean this in the way the Silent Generation did: they “fixed themselves” in order to self-actualize and make themselves better people for themselves only, with the kids as an occasional annoyance. Our generation, in contrast, must “fix itself” in order to become better parents, to breathe deep the oxygen and immediately serve Captain Squirmypants with a clear head.

I knew Tessa first. If Lucy is screaming and Tessa is screaming*, I’m running to take care of Tessa. Tessa is the lighthouse that keeps all our boats from crashing on rocky shores, and Lucy, although I love her more than life itself, is probably just hungry.

*Tessa never screams

0 thoughts on “pop rocks: 2 parts, coke: 1 part, then mix

  1. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    You have got to stop writing blog entries all about me! Are you talking to me?
    I have fixed myself to be a better parent. After Helen was born, I faced the reality that I had been clinically depressed for YEARS, (years I tell you!), and I got help (and meds). So far, the results have been great, if I do say so myself. My husband and I get along well, I am patient and nurturing with my daughter, and Helen is by all accounts a well-rounded, happy little girl (with no hints of the depression I suffered from . . . looks like we may have dodged that bullet).
    But, there is a hitch. Isn’t there always? I need to medicate myself to take care of myself. I don’t know the effects of all of the drugs I take on a fetus, and I don’t want to take chances by harming a baby. I don’t want to get off the meds, thereby harming the happy family environment I have worked so hard to create. So, we don’t plan to have any more babies. This in itself is OK — we feel lucky to have a healthy, happy child, and the one child family works well for us. But. . . every time someone says to me, “Oh, but you can’t let her be an only child. . . she needs a sibling!” I want to kick that person in the teeth.

  2. emma

    I can remember being nine years old and backpacking with my parents in Chicago Basin not far from Durango, Colorado. My Dad had gotten ahead of me and my mom and we had a tough climb on our first day. When Dad (born 1928 – an early member of the Silent Generation?) found a campsite, he took off his backpack and doubled back to help us. I was so happy to see him walking back to us and then so mad when he took my mom’s backpack instead of mine. (At that age, mine probably didn’t consist of more than my clothes and my sleeping bag.) After getting married and becoming a parent, I understood that moment and it actually gave me greater respect for my dad and my parents’ relationship.

  3. Chris M

    I’ve considered these issues as the youngest son of parents born in 1921 and 1925 (a bit older than the Silent Generation so they didn’t split or swing, but merely acted out a delightful Midwestern version of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virgina Wolf?’ with a smidgen of ‘Days of Wine and Roses’). I must say, Ian, absolutely spot on from top to bottom.

  4. Bud

    My personal favorite Gen X moment:
    1974, age 7, summer, running like hell because my first ever water balloon, thrown blindly, had gone in the window of a Cadillac and hit THE WRONG GUY TO FUCK WITH right in the face. Screeching brakes, huge guy leaves his car in the middle of the street and chases three boys through the woods and people’s backyards, brandishing a baseball bat and screaming bloody murder.
    I’m with these kids a couple of years older than me, and we run into somebody’s house. Their parents are vegging on the couch (probably stoned, it’s mid-afternoon) watching TV. We run in, breathless, and I realize I’m still holding on to my other water balloon.
    ‘Dad’ looks up with quizzical eyebrows, then mock-sternly admonishes his son: “Y’all better not get caught.”
    That’s always summed up childhood for me.


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