Commentary by Bill Buchanan
“You are probably the only 57-year-old uncle in the country who brought his 20-year-old niece over to the house to watch a Disney movie together.”
That quote came from Ava after my niece, Meredith, came over to eat pizza and watch “Tangled” with me while my wife was at rehearsal. The oddity of two adults from different generations enjoying a children’s movie together didn’t really sink in until she said that. Meredith and I had a great time. We talked for awhile, ordered a pizza and laughed at the movie. Afterward, we visited some more before Meredith returned to her apartment.
It is easy to complain about young people. In fact, one of the (few) privileges of getting older is complaining about people who are younger than you. Most of us are guilty of ranting about the younger generation, and some of these tirades are justified.
For instance, I have a real concern about the lack of information young people are receiving in the “information age.” I am not concerned about the amount, but the quality of the information they receive. Many get their “news” from unreliable internet sources, and while the internet can provide an amazing wealth of information, there is a lot of garbage in cyberspace. Unfortunately, a viable organization like CNN is often given the same search status as something like www.Iamstupid.com. So, something that is an unsubstantiated rumor or perhaps an absolute lie often receives as much credibility as news from a legitimate source. I realize that network news can also be somewhat slanted — both to the left and right, depending upon the channel, but network news is generally vetted for accuracy while many internet “reports” are not.
I’m also troubled by kids who have parents that do everything for them short of breathing. The “Wizard of Westwood,” UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, is quoted as saying, “The worst thing you can do for your children or people you love are the things they could and should do for themselves.” Amen to that. The terms “hover mother” and “mama drama” have entered the lexicon, and with good reason. Many children seem so absolved of responsibility that they will be all but paralyzed when they reach adulthood. By doing everything for them, their parents have stripped them of those pesky traits like self-reliance and motivation which are necessary to successfully function in the real world.
Now my niece is certainly not perfect. She is in summer school to repeat the economics course she failed last spring. She smokes, which I hate. She doesn’t smoke in front of me, and is embarrassed that I know about her habit. That said, she is a great kid and I love her very much. She is cute, smart, funny and mature. I have always enjoyed her company, and I am happy that she seems to enjoy mine.
It seems that just about the time I am ready to write off the younger generation, I spend some time around Meredith, or other bright, energetic young people like Ojai Valley News interns Evan Cooper, Michelaina Johnson and Matt Wagner, and my hope returns.
Maybe I should spend less time ranting, and more time visiting with the right young people.