I kid you not! The elementary school my youngest daughter attends doesn’t even teach cursive writing anymore. Guess I see the point. If kids today want something to be “cursive” they hit the keyboard “I“. But it made for a funny moment at the bank when the teller presented my 12-year-old with her new interac card and she started trying to print her entire name – in block letters – across the two-inch space.
- An Understanding of the word “Lost”
Today’s kids will probably never experience the sensation of being truly “lost”. In the google app world, you are only a “dropped pin” away from wherever you want to be, and if you need a little moral support during the journey you can select a male or female audio friend to tell you exactly when to turn left and when to turn to right.
Since they will never find themselves parked on the side of the highway with no idea where they are, they will also never experience the Rubric’s Cube level of frustration that goes with trying to open a 4 ft x 5 ft map in the space between their chest and the steering wheel. And they will never risk death-by-papercuts as they struggle to condense the giant map (which probably wasn’t all that helpful anyway) back to pamphlet-size so it can be squished back into a glove compartment overflowing with other useless maps.
- Peanut Butter Sandwiches in Brown Paper Bags
I can’t remember the last time any of my kids were in a class where there wasn’t at least one classmate deemed “deathly” allergic to peanut butter. Statistically, the odds are supposed to be about 1 in 100, but if middle-class parents are to be believed, it is more like 1 in 10. I once sent a homemade peanut butter cookie in a school lunch and actually got a call from the principal. His level of distress indicated that my transgression was along the lines of smuggling a semi-automatic weapon onto the premises.
When I was a kid, my family couldn’t afford to buy a set, but whenever the grocery store offered collectible editions, my mom would enthusiastically save enough coupons for A-B. And C-D. And sometimes even E-F. But by the end of the third week of the promotion, mom would have lost interest. So every science project had to be about ants or bees. No spiders or snakes for me. And bears were okay, but only black or brown ones. The polar bear remained a mystery until junior high, when there was a school library that opened my world up to include G-Z. Of course, these were “reserve” books, so I had to lug a roll of dimes around with me and photocopy pages.
The whole dime thing was okay because you needed dimes back then to use the pay phone. Hmmm…. another thing my kids don’t understand.
- Collections of Tangible “Things”
There are no boxes filled with stamps or coins in my attic. No bookcases filled with records/cassettes/CD collections in my rec room. In fact, there are no bookcases filled with books and our family photo albums freeze up at the point where my youngest started school. Kids today don’t have a need for empty shoeboxes or bookcases. Their special collections (which are mostly homemade videos and selfies) are stored in the nebulous world of the Cloud.
It is easy to get nostalgic about how things used to be. But then I remember those God-awful photos my mother used to take and how she insisted on saving every single one of them, even the ones where my eyes were closed or I had a volcano-grade pimple on my chin. I remember situations in which I found myself alone, walking home in the rain and the dark, because I had run out of dimes or couldn’t find a payphone. And I remember eating those damn peanut butter sandwiches day in and day out and wishing for a little more variety in my paper bag lunches.
A lot of things are different for kids today. It is a little disconcerting. But also kind of cool. I love watching their homemade videos. And they are teaching me how to take flattering selfies!