I am convinced that there is much to learn from the younger generation. Theirs is a different world than the one I grew up in – no better, no worse – and I want to “seize the moment to pick their brains of youth.” I want to understand their perspective and their take on life so I do what I can to connect.
I had to snicker at this scenario.
Last week, I was driving Phoenie to school. A Grade 12 student in the neighbourhood missed her school bus so she hitched a ride with me. Phoenie was keeping himself busy in the back seat, absorbed in an Archie comic and periodically practising his upcoming speech. Michelle and I – or should I say – Michelle, her phone, and I sat together in the front seat with a full hour’s commute to Sudbury.
We had different goals. Michelle wanted to text and I wanted to talk.
We quickly fell into a noteworthy rhythm of compromise. I respected her inexplicable compulsion to communicate with her friends by patiently waiting for her to push the SEND button on her phone – THAT was my cue to fire a question. Michelle would then look up and answer the question as succinctly as possible while holding tightly onto her phone in anticipation of a response. When that phone vibrated, Mchelle stopped talking. Her head would go down and I would once again wait patiently for the cue to ask the next question.
The depth of our conversation was dictated by the length of time it took for her friend to text back.
Despite the awkwardness of the situation, Michelle and I managed to talk about the pros and cons of school uniforms and her plans to become a plastic surgeon.
When we got into Sudbury, I asked Michelle, “So, where do I go now?” Where’s your school?”
Michelle had a puzzled look on her face and after about ten seconds, she replied, “I don’t know. I have no idea.”
Of course, at this point, I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “How can a seventeen year old girl with plans to become a plastic surgeon, not know where her own high school is?”
I must have looked perplexed because Michelle leaned over, put her phone in her bag and said, “I should pay more attention to what’s going on around me. I’ve been riding a school bus for two years and I’ve never looked up. Come to think of it, I’ve never had a conversation with anyone on the bus. Pretty embarrassing, huh?”
I just smiled. Different generations – different “AHA” moments.