Dear Grandparenting: My granddaughter is lost in space. I mean deep outer space. For the life of me, I cannot understand where she is coming from. She knows nothing about the real world around her and doesn’t care unless it comes with rap music attached.
I wrote myself a little list of what’s been on her mind over this past week. Otherwise I tend to forget things she talks about because I have no frame of reference. I doubt anyone with half a brain has the slightest interest in these things but here goes.
Tattoos on her derriere or neck, maybe ISIS is just “misunderstood,” this disgusting thing called “twerking,” thongs for the beach but the ocean scares her, expensive new blue jeans that come with big holes in the knees already, Rihanna and Kanye always, boys who do stupid things when the camera is running like the jerk filming himself trying to “drive like an idiot” who wrecks his parent’s car, Snapchat, jewelry for stomach piercing and a “proper” trip to Hawaii for her 14th birthday with “six best friends.”
Maybe this is OK if you are 8. But my granddaughter isn’t a kid anymore, going on 14 already. In my book, that’s about the age a person should start to show signs of intelligent life. How about a reason or two for hope? Bunky1942, Everett, Washington
Dear Bunky: You forgot to mention a new CNN report that teens now spend an average of nine hours a day using social media. Nine hours! Every week there’s another story with the latest twist on how social media torments and bullies grandchildren or is just plain depressing. Must be gluttons for punishment, but what do we know?
We’re not going to kid you — the gap between our grandchildren’s world and the world we knew can seem wider each year. But is that reason to devalue their existence? Maybe you were expecting campouts and hopscotch, but that’s not really on the agenda of every teenage granddaughter in 2016. Their digital toys are better, their choice set richer, their social life more complex, their expectations ever greater (despite economic reports to the contrary), and their age of innocence briefer. They act like little adults in a child’s body.
Except that adult implies one is operating with their fair share of mental power. But according to emerging research on a region of the brain that controls behavioral and social behaviors, the prefrontal cortex remains under construction until well beyond the teenage years. So some researchers are extending the “adolescent years” from age 12 until age 24, when maturity presumably arrives. Childhood, as often remarked, is an illness that most of us eventually outgrow.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
What a bargain my grandchildren are! I give them my loose change and they give me a million dollars’ worth of pleasure – Gene Perret, humorist
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.