What year was that when Steven Tyler said that, late 70s, and here he is 4 decades later still singing that song onstage!!? What does he think of the irony NOW of thinking THEN he was wrinkled? Like every woman I know whose thought they were fat, then looks back at themselves in their teens, twenties, (pre-kids, lets face it) and thinks “OMG! HOW DID I THINK I WAS FAT THEN??” Steven, if you only knew buddy. And christ who would think Keith Richards is still kicking? With everything that man has ingested and he’s still doing his think onstage – life is unexplainable! As we age, we become more aware of our own mortality. The lines get deeper, the clock ticks days down, the jowls grow, and the old gray mare just ain’t what she used to be (but Keith Richards MUST have a deal with the devil).
The world feels smaller lately. It feels closer and dangerous and scary. The thin veil was ripped off and what many knew was exposed – the still sordid hateful underbelly of America. Polarizing forces have caused many to fight for the democracy of all, while others wept and retreated. Or both. While the cries rally against liberal snowflakes, I wonder what the current response would be to my other blog ‘My son’s a retard.’ Clickbait before I knew what that was, but at the time was an internal visceral response to flippant and frequent use of the ‘r-word.’ It’s hard to know WHAT to believe anymore, and at this point all I can speak for is myself. I, like many, am exhausted from frustration and anger that OTHERS DON’T SEE MY POINT OF VIEW. LIKE MY GOD HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE IT? But I know – that’s how all sides feel. Just listen to my point of view, then you’ll see, then you’ll change. And if you don’t, clearly you are an idiot and let me post a meme about that on my facebook. But as Cindi Roger’s taught me (not so) long ago, experience colors perception. We see our world through our own lenses – of home and town and state and country and culture and gender and sexuality and money. We dabble in other worlds and then judge those worlds by our limited experience. Or no experience at all.
While the older generations want to bemoan my kids’ generation (and the older generatons alway do), my kids grew up on minecraft and youtube and ‘participation trophies,’ my kids also are growing up with an innate acceptance of ‘differences.’ Gen-Zers are open minded, aware, hardworking and anxious kids. Their schoolwork is VERY challenging (far harder than what we did at the same age) and they are expected to not just do well – but SUCCEED. My 13-year-old has cried over algebra several times in 8th grade, and it’s concerning and sad to have her sobbing and stressed over an upcoming flipping quiz. BACK IN MY DAY (say it like Wilford Brimley) we cried over boys in the 8th grade. We wandered streets unsupervised and called all adults Mr and Mrs. We went to college when we didn’t know what we wanted to do! Go to school, be undeclared, figure that shit out with some keg parties and sexual experimentation! (me – undeclared for two years, majored in psychology with a minor in human services) BUT NOW! Its like the movie Divergent, you gotta choose your vocation when you’re 7 and that’s the one you are stuck with forever and ever and ever the end make the right decision or you will end up living on the corner with a dog tied to your grocery cart.
Being a therapist for a long long time (cough two decades cough) (old alert), I’ve witnessed the changing mental health of middle American kids. Many of my clients are extremely high achieving, intelligent kids, that suffer from massive debilitating anxiety. While we have higher expectations of kids today, they’ve received the disservice of not being ABLE to be kids. You could not imagine the number of clients who I ask – have you had any fun lately? Laughed today? My homework for them is to build joy and fun into their lives. Ours kids, lacking in simple things with minimal expectations, don’t know how to be free and joyous. Kids today. I have respect for them. They are navigating a new world.
I recently took that same aforementioned 13 year old to see her favorite band, Twenty One Pilots. They have been around a while, won a Grammy, had a few overplayed hits (Heathens), but I didn’t know their music. But the concert, holy shit the concert, BLEW ME AWAY. They are a band you fall in love with when you see them live (my fellow music lovers understand this). The energy, production, and pure love of music by the band of two was all encompassing. The concert was filled with many young people, kids as young as 7, 10, teens, families, and young group chorus rose during the crowd during sing alongs, group of girls next to my crying in happiness.
I had a lump in my throat the whole time, watching my kid feel joy. Seeing her favorite band live, singing every. single word. One of my life’s joys, and not only was I sharing it with her, but she was TEACHING ME now. She was showing me her joy, and letting me in, reminding me that I need joy too. Motherhood must be more than just sacrifice. I’m so hatefully human in my frailties as a parent, never feeling like good enough, doing enough, enriching enough, that I’m failing. I lay awake in bed at night and list the ways I’ve let everyone down. I lay awake, thinking about the ticking clock, my own death, , wondering what will happen to Owen, worrying and worrying and self flagellating. Worrying about our country. Worrying about my 13 year old crying over a quiz. Worrying about the lines on my face getting deeper.
But she lets me into her musical joy. In Boston, at the legendary Garden, with my first born – and I let it all go, and we are ageless, and I step in. And now? I have a new favorite band.