It’s a horrifying thing.
They’re children. They like Taylor Swift and beg their parents for a smart phone. They play Minecraft and only know the Transformers as a movie. They play baseball and hockey and ballet and cheerleading and basketball. They actually wear their favorite color. They don’t get sick after eating fast food. They’re more familiar with 9/11 from history books than anywhere else. They want to be astronauts and rock stars and clothes designers and video game designers. They make up their own languages and memorize them for a week. They’re just learning what F and A and N and D words stand for. They fall asleep in church. They rake leaves for money. They barely know how to put on makeup and are half a decade away from their first shave. They haven’t had the talk.
They only know Lindsay Lohan from Freaky Friday and Britney Spears from The X Factor. If they’ve had a first kiss, it was a sweet peck on the lips or cheek. They’ve memorized the names of One Direction band members and the Dunphy children. They know exactly what their dream house looks like and are confident they’ll get it. They wake up super early on Christmas morning and without a hangover. They have fun at the beach and hate the sun-shirt their mom makes them wear. They hate green beans and sugar snap peas. They love apple sauce and juice in a cardboard box. They know it’s bad to be racist and good to take care of the environment. They hate the smell of cigarettes.
They use their mom’s Netflix account to watch Drake and Josh. They don’t know whether Barack Obama is a Democrat or a Republican. They have no idea what Boy Meets World is and don’t care. They don’t know Led Zeppelin, Garth Brooks, Pink Floyd, Tupac Shakur, Elton John, or Wilco and they are just fine with that. They don’t know how to drive. They don’t know how to fold a fitted sheet. They don’t know how to drop a needle on a vinyl record or analyze a poem. They read manga. They read Jerry Spinelli and Carl Hiaasen; they have nostalgia about Eric Carle. They scoff at any video game that doesn’t have an alien invasion or a dragon. They stand at the top of the stairs to overhear their parents fighting and want nothing more than for them to stop.
Some have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, High-Functioning Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, OCD, Anxiety, and PTSD. Some have an insulin pump.
They don’t know what a credit score is. They don’t know what colleges to be looking at. They don’t know the joy and fear of leaving home and becoming your own person. They don’t know what the Earned Income Tax Credit is. They have no connection to anywhere but their hometown. They don’t know the scandals that caused so much stress to the rest of their family. They don’t understand the phrase “pregnancy scare” or “miscarriage” or “adultery.” They don’t know the thousands of people they’ll meet, the dozens of loves they’ll have, the eternal hope that struggle can bring when you have full faith in the optimism of your dreams.
And they never will.