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November 07, 2013 8:26 am

AMEND CORNER: In praise of ‘these kids today’

Written by Don Amend

It’s pretty common for us old geezers to look askance at the younger generations.

 

 

You’ve probably heard complaints from the older generations about “these kids today,” with the word “kids” meaning anyone between the ages of 8 and 40, maybe even older, depending on your age. And just to make sure no one is insulted, note that I did refer to myself as a “geezer.”

Part of this denigration of “these kids” stems from jealousy, since those kids are still doing things we “older folks” can only do in our memories. Another cause is that we often don’t consider the goofy things we did as kids when we pass judgment on the goofy things kids are doing today.

Then there’s this: We often find ourselves in the hands of people who don’t look old enough to be doing what they are doing who are helping us stay healthy, lending us money or ministering to our spiritual needs. Sometimes their youth makes us wonder if they are competent enough to the job they are doing.

I first encountered that feeling way back in my 20s when the church I was attending called a minister who was younger than I was. Even though he was only a couple years younger, and even though I was on the committee that recommended him, it was still a bit of a shock to think I was trusting my spiritual self to such a youngster.

After all, most of the ministers I had encountered before were my parents’ age. In fact, I was a contemporary of many of their kids, and cooperated with a few of them in some underhanded shenanigans.

Had our respective backgrounds been different, this new minister might have been a middle-school-aged co-conspirator rather than the preacher who scolded us for them.

It got worse as I aged as former students became colleagues in teaching. It was even more daunting when I became the oldest cub reporter in Wyoming and my stuff was being edited by people younger than I was.

It seemed strange that, after years of editing and critiquing writing by people 30 or 40 years younger than I was, people in their 20s were now finding my spelling errors and telling me that many of the punctuation rules I had learned and taught for half a century were incorrect, at least according to the AP Stylebook.

Worst of all, though, was when some of those same former teenagers began appearing in my doctor’s office, taking my blood pressure, giving me shots, and, on one occasion, assisting in one of those rather embarrassing exams of intimate parts of my body.

By now, though, I have reached the age when my first students are getting their Medicare cards in the mail and some of my last students are practicing law. Powell kids I may have taken pictures of when they were in the third grade are about to graduate from high school.

In short, I have been edited, directed, doctored, nursed, counseled and therapied by an army of former “these kids today,” some of whom look as though they need an ID to buy a beer and at least one nurse who looked as though she had graduated from high school last month, and maybe had graduated early at that.

While there were a few who were a bit grumpy or bossy, all of them did a good job of taking care of me, even when I was acting like a cranky old geezer.

Consequently, I’m not one to badmouth the younger generation, even those who are still in those awkward ages between 11 and 18. Sure, some of them get out of line, but so did my friends and I when we were young. Some don’t turn out so well, but I know guys my age that turned out bad.

Generally, all of them will grow up, and most of them will make their parents and teachers proud by being responsible adults and producing cute grandchildren. Then, gradually they will become geezers themselves and start complaining about these kids today.

With all that in mind, I close with this true story.

Recently, on one of my rare forays downtown, my wife and I were heading into a downtown establishment. When we got to the door, we were met by a young man who had come to the door to open it for us before returning to sit with his family. When we left, a young woman beat us to the door and opened it for us before returning to sit with her friends.

I have had this and similar experiences with kids quite frequently during the years I was going to Powell’s schools as a reporter, and those experiences have shown me that “these kids today” are pretty good human beings overall.

And we geezers should be thankful for that.

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