Most of them probably know better than to say it out loud, but I’m quite certain all of our kids collectively think we are idiots. I may not know how to start, stop, or pause a movie using Playstation controllers (I mean, those things don’t make any sense at all, I don’t even feel bad) So when my 9-year-old patiently holds out his hand for me to hand him whatever it is that doesn’t seem to be working, I have to audibly remind myself, and him, that I really do know quite a lot of stuff. I’m guessing you do too, my fellow adult. And you know what? A good chunk of the stuff we know, is stuff those kids will never know. I almost feel sorry for them.
I was chatting about this at a graduation party with some savvy, know-a-lot, grown-up-lady friends. As required by the unwritten rules of attending a graduation party, we were lamenting the passage of time, and wondering what happened to those sweet little babies who used to think we were amazing. How can it be nearing the time for us to release them into the world?
I mean, they don’t even know how to properly put on pantyhose.
It’s a lost art. An art, we agreed, that might just disappear when we do. We know to scrunch the pantyhose down, and point our toes, after making sure there is not a jagged finger or toe nail in a five-mile radius. We expertly substitute the word “nylons” whenever we feel like it. I bet those kids don’t even know they can stop a run with clear nail polish.
You know what? If our lives depended on us neatly folding a note with a convenient pull-tab, to pass to a co-worker after the staff meeting, we could do it. I could do it in about 5 seconds, and have written your name and drawn stars all over it, and passed it to you without anybody else noticing.
We can tape a song from the radio onto a cassette. We may get a little bit of the DJ talking over the beginning of the song, but we could do it. Oh you don’t have a cassette player? Allow me to burn you a mix CD.
We can roller skate…backwards… on 8 wheels. If my knees weren’t bad, I would totally show you.
We can use a card catalog. And a Spiegel’s catalog. We could order blazers right now – in crimson AND navy – without ever having to get on a computer.
We can use an encyclopedia and a telephone book and a payphone and a Thomas Guide, and a microfiche machine. I think I have as many microfiche hours under my belt as I do parenting hours.
We know how to use an answering machine, a Walkman, a Discman, a floppy disc, and a fax machine. Granted, fax machines are the worst, but I can fax the heck out of an invoice or an insurance form.
We can fold maps, and we…can…fold…NEWSPAPERS.
Here’s my oldest kiddo, actively not knowing how to fold a newspaper.
We know how to make phone calls, and receive phone calls without being weird about it.
We know how to take care of a perm.
We know how to put a roll of film in to, and take it out of, a camera.
We knew how to find whoever was giving us a ride home from school/a concert/a movie with no phone to coordinate. It was practically like Outward Bound, or that show with Bear Grylls where you have to eat like, a pinecone in the wilderness, and look to the stars for guidance. It was almost exactly like that.
We know to program a VCR, and in a twist of fate, we know how to teach a mom how to program a VCR.
And though it’s not a skill, I’m grateful to have known the joy of a Jell-O pudding pop, how gross coffee used to be, and the satisfaction of reaching the end of a perfectly typed line on a typewriter.
And so, to the kids who think we’re idiots: don’t get too comfortable. The stuff you know today is cool, and great, and I would never wish irrelevancy on your burgeoning skills. But your day will come. And by “your day” I mean our day…the day you say, “I need to put on pantyhose/fax this form…..where’s my mom?”