• Haley

Kids Today

Me, Looking Fly, For My First Boy Girl Party

Kids today {insert eye roll and deep sigh here}. In my ripe old age of 31, I already get to use the phrase ‘back in my day’ in a way that people of my generation can relate to. After a fun morning swimming the other day I got to take the boys out for a much needed cool treat. There are only so many summers I have left to enjoy the innocence of them dripping rainbow shave ice everywhere, so I was soaking up their smiles and sticky knees. It is the last few weeks of summer and there were many groups of roving tweens pretending that summer would never end. My knee jerk reaction to watching a group of maybe twelve year old girls pose for endless group selfies was originally on big fat eye roll. ‘Ugh, kids today. They are so obsessed with technology and vanity.’

It takes a long time for a two and a four year old to eat the world’s tiniest shave ice, so I had the opportunity to observe this group of girls for awhile. I couldn’t help but be hit hard with a wave of memories of myself at that age. While it looks slightly different now, they were doing the exact same thing I was when I was that age. Stuck in a world between innocence and full-on teenagers they were just enjoying their summer together.

Growing up I had a best friend that lived down the street. Since we were far too cool to stay at either of our houses, but years away from driving anywhere, we would always meet up at the development sign halfway between our houses. We would sit there for hours out of earshot of our parents talking about everything under the moon, laughing, and just figuring out where we stood in the world. Some days we would play like little girls with chalk and some days we would think we were grown with makeup. The process of growing, especially in those tween years is hard, and it takes time. If you are lucky enough to have a friend to navigate that time together, you are lucky. After that summer I moved away and our lives took wildly different directions for awhile, but we are still good friends to this day. There is something so special about that era in life, it leaves a mark on you.

We tell kids today that they have it so much harder than we did, and in some ways I suppose that is true. We didn’t have nearly as much power in our pockets as they do today. There are so many more ways that kids today are exactly like every generation that came before them. There has always been an unattainable standard of beauty out there, and it has always been aimed at young girls. For me it was housed in music videos and magazines, but it was still there. There have always been friends and bullies, and as a tween girl the inevitable group of ‘frenemies’. Today they can be with you everywhere you go, and you cannot leave them at school like you used to be able to, but they have always been there.

We do kids a disservice by telling them that it is too hard today. We set them up for failure by declaring ‘they can’t handle it’ before they even try. Social media is hard to navigate as an adult, I cannot imagine having so much information in my bedazzled purse and body full of hormones at that age. I did grow up with chat rooms and AIM, but it lived in my moms office and my dads dining room, I could not use it in any sort of privacy; thank goodness. I couldn’t take pictures without a disposable camera that would get developed at the local convenience store, and taking videos required a whole lot of equipment that I was not allowed to touch, let alone use.

I am a solid decade from raising tweens, and I am blessed enough to have boys where I imagine I will have to worry about their physical bodies more than the emotional toll and drama of girls. I speak now from only a reminiscent place; not in the trenches myself and certainly not raising someone in the trenches. I watch kids today act in such kind and loving ways all the time. I like to laugh and say that kids in Utah are a different breed, demanded of them by the sheer number of kids per family. I watch kids of all ages play together, help each other, and teach each other and I truly hope that it is kids everywhere and not just a Utah thing. The young babysitter we have for the boys plays so much with them I would not want to have the boys chose between us for fear they would pick her (no contest, they would). The neighbor kids who are way older than my boys include them in ways that come so naturally to them that it is impressive and heartwarming all at the same time.

At the national level, the one the media loves to talk about, kids today are vain and bullies and killers, and it is all the fault of social media. In watching these girls just exist the other day, I was surprised to find that I have been internalizing that image of kids. At a personal level, kids today are very much the same as they have always been; just trying to navigate a world they are too young to fully participate in and understand. I watch kids every day perform very basic and surprising acts of love, patience and kindness at a level that I leave me in awe. My real life experience with kids leads me to believe they are undeniably more good than not.

Kids today:
Keep up the good work. You can do this life thing. Hold on to youth as long as you can, once you grow up you can’t turn back. Keep using your powers for good, your compassion is an inspiration to all of us. Life beyond hormonal years is coming and it is worth the wait. We see you. You are loved. You are appreciated.
Just A Mom
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