Fast forward twenty years or so, and one of life's great ironies hit me last night when I was tagged in a Facebook photo by someone who knew me back then: I think I have more to hide from my 15-year-old son than he does from me. I opened the email, checked out the tag and then reflexively looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was behind me (in fact, I just did it again—some old habits die hard).
This was not the case with parents in my dad's generation. My dad grew up just after World War II and was in the service during the Korean War (safely stationed in Canada and New Orleans). Then he went to work and spent the next 47 years or whatever working for the same corporation.
I grew up in Reagan's America, and I was in college in the early 1990s—right around the time of Woodstock Redux and grunge music. So yeah, I've been in a few student riots; I've seen cars flipped and lit on fire; I've had friends make pilgrimages to Amsterdam; and I know a few guys who have things tattooed on their bodies that qualify for protection under the Fifth Amendment.
It seems like everybody's always bitching about kids today, and their computer time and rainbow parties and sexting and prescription drugs, but from where I'm sitting, I just don't see it. To me, it seems like kids today are, well, pretty good kids. They're tech-savvy, they are creative and funny, and they're focused in a way that makes my generation look like a bunch of slackers.
Sure, it's possible my oldest son is hiding all kinds of stuff from me. Maybe he does have a mini-hydroponics grow operation in his closet (like some people I have known). But I kind of doubt it. That's another kids today do: they live almost entirely in public.
But then in the midst of all this, I had another, somewhat unsettling thought. I was talking to my dad not too long ago about smoking—a habit he never started and one I gave up years ago. And he kind of grinned and said, "If it could burn, I probably tried smoking it when I was younger." To say I was shocked would be a HUGE understatement. Then I remembered another thing he said ... something about living just a few doors down from Pat O'Brien's in the French Quarter.
Huh. Now I'm beginning to wonder ... maybe the world is actually the REVERSE of what I thought growing up. Maybe the only reason kids have to go to extraordinary lengths to hide their bad behavior is because, when you're an adult, you own the garage your kid might be hiding behind. You don't have to bother with any spy craft or sneakery.
You can just lock the door.