Friday, May 28, 2010


So, we let Ainsley watch Glee.

With parental supervision, of course. I would feel more guilty about letting her watch an "adult" show that sometimes features sexual innuendo and mildly racy language, but I really think it's less harmful in the long run than letting her watch Hannah Montana. At least the people on Glee are examples of how to act and sing well.

Lately, watching this show together has made me all too aware of the generation gap between my 7-year-old and I. It all started with the episode that ended with the group doing a cover of one of my all-time favorite songs, U2's "One."

Rachel, the young diva with the great big voice, started singing the song for someone and prefaced it by saying, "I heard you like classic rock."

So "One" is classic rock now? Really?

"That's not classic rock!" I said to Jason. "Classic rock is 60s and 70s music."

"Classic rock WAS 60s and 70s music back when we were in the 80s and 90s. I guess music from the 80s and 90s is classic now."


It didn't help that Ainsley popped up and said, "What's this song? I've never heard this one before."

I opened my mouth to correct her, because how has someone not heard "One"? Then I remembered she's seven. Then I retrieved my copy of Achtung Baby to play with Ainsley in the car between listenings of Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato.

During Glee's Madonna-centric episode I realized that Ainsley had no earthly idea who Madonna is nor why the girls in the cast were wearing funny-looking bras when they did "Express Yourself." (Someone get me a copy of The Immaculate Collection, stat!) And this week when the Glee club guys dressed like Kiss, she had no idea who they were supposed to be.

"Why do all those guys have that makeup on their faces?"

I looked to Jason, former Kiss fan, to give her the explanation of this one, but he was singing along to "Shout It Out Loud" at the time and I didn't have the heart to interrupt him.

In the same episode, she did, however, know the Lady Gaga songs. Methinks it's about time for a "classic rock" intervention.

I don't know if there has ever been such a wide generational-knowledge gap than there will be between us late Gen X-ers and our children. Technology and the world in general have moved so fast; items are invented one year and made obsolete the next. In a world where the phrase, "That's SO ten minutes ago" is not really an exaggeration, is there any hope of us catching up to them and them slowing down for us?

Ainsley has never seen a rotary phone or a vinyl record. She has no idea what a roll of film looks like. She has a tape player on her little boombox, but she's never put a cassette in it and I dare say she wouldn't know how to. She saw someone use a typewriter in an older movie not too long ago and asked where the computer screen was. She's learning cursive at her school, but most her age are not; they're learning keyboarding in the third grade instead. Even things we thought once were cutting-edge technology are like artifacts from an archaeological dig for her; she's never seen someone pull up the antenna on a cell phone, never heard that high-pitched modem squeal that means your dial-up connection is starting, never saved a document onto a floppy disk, never watched someone program a recording on a VCR. She does, however, know how to start a saved program on a DVR, how to send a text message, and even took a picture and captured video on her dad's new phone before he had even figured that out. It's like being a family of immigrants; Jason and I have learned this new language in adulthood and know just enough to function in our new world. But Ainsley was born speaking technology and has a native proficiency and comfort we'll never have.

For her, a phone is always going to be something people can carry in their pocket. Listening to music while on the go will mean plugging ear buds into something roughly the size of a credit card. Passing notes in class while the teacher's not looking will mean discreetly typing a text message. Getting a roll of pictures developed will mean plugging a camera into a computer and hitting "Print."

And "One" will always be "that song from Glee."

Get used to it, fellow children of the 80s--we are antiques.


Robert K. said...

I was talking to Claire, one of the Admissions counselors, recently and I mentioned that she must have hated "The Breakfast Club." She looked confused and asked me why. I explained that it was the name of Molly Ringwald's character. She told me she had never seen it. I was amazed because EVERYONE has seen "The Breakfast Club," right? Except that Claire is 24. The movie came out a year before she was born.

Karen said...

Hehehe...I guess I have made my kids antiquated then. Two of Gwen's favorite songs are "Roam" by the B-52's and (of all things) "The End of the World as We Know it" by R.E.M. And there's a big stack of 33's behind the kid DVD's. Poor things!! :)

Helen Ellis said...

Dear Cranky Librarian,
Why don't you and Ainsley visit my website In quick vlogs, I'll show her how to use a rotary phone ( and explain what an album is ( along with demonstrating many other items I cling to from the 80's and before.
Helen Ellis

Melmart said...

A few random thoughts in response...
1. friday had a discussion with several students who had no idea how to read cursive writing. prompted by one of them asking "hey can you read this? I can't read that." "Me either"
2. Quite a few of my students we obsessed with listening to my 80s playlist over the loud speakers while we were getting ready for the musical every night. Now, maybe they were using it to make fun of me but they asked every night.
3. My 13 year old nephew now loves Men at Work, thanks to me introducing it to him when he had a poetry assignment relating to song lyrics. I believe he used "Who can it be Now" I'm very proud.
4. when it comes to classic cars--25 year old cars qualify for the antique license plates. really. my first car would qualify now. 1980 cavalier. i still miss it.

DRoss said...

You needn't second-guess yourself about Glee. We've been letting Meg and Ella watch "Chuck" along with us, despite the more-than-innuendo scenes and the gory scenes and the wicked kungfu moves. They both really dig it. So far we've had to send them both to the staircase to wait out several blazing gunfights and a wrenching tooth-pulling scene. I stammered when Meg asked, "When did they get married?" in the episode where Chuck tries to convince Sarah to move in with him. The worst was giving Ella (!) the "You can't play like that." lecture when I found her giving an overlong kiss to one of her bears. "It's a Chuck kiss." she explained nonchalantly.
I've heard about schools not teaching cursive. What a waste of an opportunity to be creative! Think of the fun they'll miss by not tweaking their own script.