At what age do people stop telling you “you’re just a baby” and start telling you “you’re so old”? Is there a magic number? An age? A state of mind? The average measurement between your boobs and your knees?
Is it when you hear people whispering behing your back that you’re dressing like a 20 year old? Or is it this…when the phrases “your generation” and “my generation” start to creep into conversation?
If it’s the last one, well, I had that happen 2 years ago. I’ve already arrived at “old” and I don’t know how to feel about it!
It happened on an ordinary day – the sun was shining, birds were singing, not a cloud in sight. I was chatting with someone who is barely 12 years younger than me. We were discussing a couple of lovely ladies who just didn’t work well together…one was in her 20s and one was in her 70s.
And then it happened. He used the phrases “my generation…” and “your generation” in the conversation.
I ran through some of the stages of grief in seconds. First, came shock! I felt like I had been slapped in the face and my ears started to ring. I could feel the blood rushing to my face and sweat collecting in pools under my armpits. That sensation was quickly followed by anger, muttering in my head: “That young pup! Just what is he trying to say! Is he saying I’m old?” Then denial: “No, no that’s not what he’s saying. I’m just over-reacting…”
While I was whipping through 3 of the stages of grief, he was trying to explain to me how my generation was something (I think I blacked out), but his generation didn’t put up with crap. I resisted the urge to ask him if he’d ever read a history book – every heard of the suffrage movement? The civil rights movement? Revolutions? Anti-war demonstrations? Every generation has thought they were the generation who was going to make great changes in the world by not putting up with crap!
But I listened to his “crap” (even though I wanted to slap him on back of the head like I might do with my older son…gently, gently) and felt a little smug because “my generation was taught to respect their elders”)…and then I gently pointed out what I saw as the heart of the issue: RESPECT. (Sing it Aretha!)
Neither party respected the other. They both wanted to be “queen bee”. They both thought their way was the right way. And eventually neither one thought the other could do anything right. Tasks were left undone. The relationship was damaged further; toes stepped on. Tensions mounted. And in the end, there were no “winners” – barely any survivors.
It had nothing to do with generations.
Sometimes I have to work with people with strong personalities, and they can drive me nuts. I don’t put up with their crap, but I do try to show them respect by listening to their point of view. Then they are more willing to listen to mine. We reach a compromise – I don’t see compromise as “backing down”. It doesn’t matter if I’m a “baby” or an “old fart”, we both “leave the table” feeling heard…
…but if I hear that phrase “my generation” and “your generation” again any time soon from that certain somebody again, I’m going to respect the crap out of him with my fist. I’ve decided that’s how “my generation” rolls!
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This was the first (of what I hope to be many) 10 Minute Monday posts – write for 10 minutes on whatever, no editing (ok, maybe just a little…)!