So, here’s the general idea: The older I get, the more I need to protect myself from incipient Old Fogey-dom. You know, the usual stuff about how the world’s going to hell and how the younger generation is a bunch of disrespectful twerps who write with their thumbs and feel entitled.
I mean, this makes me feel really great about myself to go around defending the millennial generation, or whatever they call themselves these days. (Yes, they read! No, they don’t spend all their lives texting or watching TV! Yes, they think! Yes, they vote, they care about politics!) How cool, how with-it am I? Very.
But — a big but. I am also a mother of two of these millennials. One of whom, over the past month, graduated from college in four years, much to his parents’ delight. He also came home, took up residence on our favorite couch, and commandeered the remote control. Which was fine. At first. As was the near-total trashing of our house with all his college paraphernalia and belongings. Hey, we’re cool with that. For a while.
“When’s he going to get a job?” my husband started muttering a couple of days later.
“I think he’s chilling,” I reported helpfully.
“Yeah, but for how long?” the old-fogey parent wanted to know.
Father-and-son talks ensued. Sturm und drang. Resumes were created. Craigslist was consulted. Said old-fogey father went out of town, which is normal during a time of family crisis. Non-old-fogey mother (NOFM) was left to steer the family ship. It figures.
“I’ve got a job interview tomorrow,” the Little Millennial (LM) reported.
Much encouragement — jubilation, in fact! — greeted this announcement. The next day, the LM was calm and confident. “The interview went really well,” he said.
NOFM was in a quandary. What to do? She slipped into overdrive. “That’s great!” she said. “Just great! But, you know” — brow furrowed to indicate seriousness of the topic — “people usually interview for lots of jobs before they find one. So you should keep looking.”
“I’m chilling right now,” the LM said.
A day passed. A second inteview was set up.
“How did it go?” the NOFM asked.
“Really well,” the LM said. “They liked me.”
Another maternal dilemma. “That’s great!” Pause to furrow already-furrowed brow. “But I bet they’re interviewing lots of other people, too. They might choose someone else. I know you want this job, but it might not happen.”
LM indicates lack of concern. NOFM realizes that — when the disappointing call comes — she’ll be the one he turns to for comfort, who will gently remind him that yes, life is hard, failures are inevitable, doesn’t he remember that she told him so? Oh, yes. There’s nothing like a mother’s wisdom. Even if that mother is an old fogey, in spite of herself.
That afternoon, two days early, the phone call comes. “I’ve got the job,” the LM announces.
NOFM is thrilled, goes around bragging to all her friends, boring people to death, not that she cares. She’s the mother of an employed son! Who will soon be moving all his college paraphernalia out of their house. Her faith in the millennials is unwavering and justified. Her rejection of Old Fogey-dom is total and complete.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)