I’m Not Extinct Yet
Recently a friend and I brought our teenage daughters to a concert. All of us spent the evening together, and more than once the girls caught snippets of our adult conversation and giggled. They laughed as we fumbled with our phones and yawned at nine o’clock. They disapproved of the casual attire that we wore. It was Friday night, my friend and I had worked all day, driven over an hour home, then frantically fed our children dinner before driving another forty-five minutes to the show, so we didn’t have much time to spend on our appearances. The girls had been home primping for this outing since three o’clock.
Two generations, sitting side by side, watching the same show, but experiencing things so differently. In these circumstances, as well as so many others, I get the sense that the teenagers feel sorry for us. They think we’re old and irrelevant. Our jokes aren’t funny, we don’t wear the right clothes, and we need help with our phones. I catch them out of the corner of my eye laughing at us, and I know that they think that we are the clueless ones.
It is true that I don’t understand all of the functions of my iPhone, but I have wisdom to offer that is not technology related. As my teenagers are rolling their eyes, storming off, or sighing out of sheer exasperation with me, I’m trying to help them by telling them the truth about the things that I do know.
Baby girl, how can I make you understand the significance of what I know?
I know that someday you are going to miss these simple times when your biggest worry was whether or not your favorite outfit was clean.
I know that you are going to miss these days before tuition payments, rent, and career decisions.
I know that you are going to miss these days before life takes turns you never expected and the pain brings you to your knees.
I know that you are going to miss these days when you were gorgeous, but you didn’t know it.
When you could eat anything and still be a size zero.
When you believed that good people got happy endings and if you just did the right things, your life would turn out right.
When your annoying mom followed your every move, obsessing about your safety and doing everything in her power to protect you from the things that you didn’t know were dangerous, but she did.
When she noticed the creepy old guy staring at you, or the classmate who lingered a bit too long.
When her greatest fear was losing you, and you were trying so hard to escape.
When she was trying to preserve your innocence for as long as possible because she knew that as much as you fought against it, you would miss it when it was gone.
When she wanted to be your best friend and all you wanted was to be independent of her.
When she worked all day so that she could provide for you, then drove an hour to come home to you, then made you dinner, then cleaned it up, then spent her Friday night and money taking you and your friends to a concert and you were embarrassed to be seen with her.
You’re going to miss this, someday when you are the outdated dinosaur, who is too busy paying the mortgage to keep up with the latest technology. When you have a five-year-old iPhone because you bought your teenager the newest model and you can’t afford two.
Someday you’ll realize that it was all for you. All of the things I didn’t know and I didn’t have were because I sacrificed them for you.
Someday you’ll realize that the love you tried so hard to wrestle free of was the purest love you’ll ever know. You’ll try to tell your teenage daughter, but she will roll her eyes and think you’re a dinosaur. That day is coming faster than you think, baby girl, so don’t be in such a hurry to grow up.
I may not know the quickest way to get to the camera on my iPhone, but I know this: someday a lucky boy is going to capture your attention. Someday you will lose sight of everything and everyone in pursuit of him. Someday he will shatter your heart into a million tiny pieces, and you will wish that you had never met him. When that happens, he won’t be there to pick up the pieces, but your own personal dinosaur will be.
On that day, my failing eyesight won’t matter because I will see you, and I will tell you the truth: the problem was never you, it was him. You are beautiful, though you don’t know it, and though he wasn’t smart enough to appreciate you. On that day you will think that the pain is going to kill you, but it won’t. Someday you won’t remember his name, and you’ll be glad that he left because you’ll know that you deserve better. You won’t believe me when I tell you this, but I’ll tell you anyway because I know things. Maybe in exchange for this wisdom, you will teach me how to use my iPhone.