Wasn’t it only yesterday that you were one of the new kids on the block? Back in the days of console TVs, 78 rpm records, 8 mm movie cameras and those great big rotary-dial telephones.
That’s when newborns rode home from the hospital cradled in Mommy’s arms, and Daddy captured those first black-and-white smiles on the latest Brownie box camera. In the nursery, the most sophisticated piece of equipment was the night light on the dresser. There wasn’t a baby monitor or nanny cam in sight.
Now your grandchildren are entering a world nearly unrecognizable from the one into which you were born.
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When was the last time you were inside a phone booth or even passed one on the corner? Forget about reaching that nice lady who used to give you the correct time no matter when you called. She’s gone on to that great switchboard in the sky.
It seems as if so many of the things you thought would always be there have simply faded away. What became of the Doublemint twins, the Frito Bandito and those beautiful Breck girls? Did they run off with Bucky Beaver, the intrepid mascot for that long-ago Ipana toothpaste?
Some of your old hangouts, like A&W and Dairy Queen, updated themselves for the twenty-first century, but you probably miss real soda fountains and drive-ins with pony-tailed carhops. And just once you’d like to return to your friendly Woolworth’s five and dime and the lunch counter that served cherry pie as good as Grandma used to make.
Perhaps you get nostalgic for old-time jukeboxes, slow-dancing to “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” and “Cherish,” and singing along with lyrics you could actually hear over the music.
Big things keep changing, too. You grew up secure in the knowledge that there were nine true planets revolving around the sun. Then, out of the blue, Pluto got demoted. What’s next? A recessionary Saturn having to pawn some of its rings or face exile to another galaxy?
Life is moving so quickly, especially in the area of technology, that your sometimes digitally challenged brain may find it hard to keep up. Fortunately, your grandchildren are here to help with all the gadgets you already have and the new ones that seem to appear every day.
In one of life’s greatest mysteries, today’s kids are somehow born with a built-in tech gene. They’re multitasking at two and downloading personalized ringtones before they’re even allowed to cross the street on their own. Soon you’ll be hearing that scientists have discovered a way to insert retractable baby earbuds that grow right along with the child, so Jayden and Emma can be wired in from day one.
Don’t be surprised if you experience a conversation much like this one that recently took place between Gammy, age 60, and Aiden, age 7:
Sweetie, can you please help me add some new numbers to my cell phone?
Sure, Gam. Open up your menu.
Menu? Oh, I get it. You want me to order pizza while we do this.
No, Gam, the menu on your phone.
Because your contacts are in the menu.
Because that’s where you keep them.
So you can call your friends.
Because your grandchild says so.
Diana J. Ewing is the author of The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Grandparenting