I had a wonderful holiday weekend, despite some unexpected adventures. In the course of 48 hours, we went from expecting Chris’ parents for a visit in a month, to expecting them in 2 weeks, to expecting them yesterday. It’s a long story, but they had a nice overnight stay with us last night before heading down to central Kentucky to be with Chris’ grandma, who is having some health issues.
After a massive cleaning frenzy on my part, I went to the Hob Knobb Coffee Shop to catch up on my classwork before the inlaws arrived. After I got back, my five year old daughter proceeded to put a vicious smackdown on her grandparents in Wii Bowling. Then we broke out Guitar Hero World Tour for their (sort of) listening enjoyment. The five year old brought in an electronic keyboard with dead batteries to provide exceptional, if silent, keyboard support. I did my best to ensure that my inadequate drumming skillz did not detract from my husband’s and son’s stellar plastic guitar playing.
It occured to me at one point during the evening that neither Chris’ parents, nor mine, would have gotten this immersed in our interests as kids. My parents were marginal about showing up, much less participating, in the things I enjoyed. Much as I’d like to credit either Generation X’s or Chris’ and my personal commitment to being more involved parents, I think it may be as simple as we have more in common with our kids than our parents had in common with us.
We play video games with them because we like video games. We listen to the same music they do because we never stopped listening to new music.
I’ve never quite understood the “Boomers and Before” ideal that being a grown up meant changing your taste in music, clothes and leisure activities. I always kind of thought it just meant becoming a mature person. For me, maturity isn’t about t-shirts versus ties, it’s about realizing the world doesn’t revolve around you.
If Chris and I were playing video games because we were trying to show how “cool” we were, that would be antithetical to that kind of maturity. That would be an early midlife crisis. We play because we like it–and luckily, so do our kids, so it’s something fun we can share as a family.
Maybe there is a bit of Generation X influence in there, in that as a generation, I think we’re less predisposed to believing it’s all about us. It hasn’t been about us up till now–why would we think that was going to change because we’re turning 30 or 40? So I do think we’re a little more willing to stretch our comfort zones to make the space where we and our kids can happily co-exist a bit bigger.
When I was a kid, it felt like my parents and I belonged to two entirely different nations. The gulf between my culture and theirs grew wider every year. Every year I felt less and less like I belonged in the same house with them. It wasn’t about feeling welcome–it was about feeling foreign. Which is not a feeling that says “home” to anyone.
I don’t think that my kids need to be little clones of Chris and I, or that I need to bend myself into a metaphorical pretzel to fit into their world. I just want us to have enough common ground that no one feels like an alien.
So what about you, reader friends? Did you fit neatly into your childhood homes? Do you and your kids have more in common than you and your parents did? Would you freak out if your inlaws came a month early?
And what on earth did you do with YOUR holiday weekend?