I recently — before the George Floyd murder — asked my 20 year-old grandson what he thought the world looked like today and how he was dealing with it. He looked down, then looked up at me and said, “It is what it is. I do my school-work, listen to my mom and help around the house.” (This was a distancing lunch we had, masks on, Mother’s Day.)
Besides that a 20 year-old said that he listens to his mom (and I do believe he’s referring to the fact that he knows he can’t go out other than for a run or to walk the dog and DOES empty the garbage without being asked and does vacuum the house) his answer, “It is what it is,” struck me.
I have thought about it for several weeks and because Jacob is a man of few words, I wonder if his experience is, “Life is what it needs to be right now and I can’t change it, so I will just do what I have to do” or is it, “Life is a bitch and here we are.” Or is it that he is just resigned to the State of the Union and the world is just f***ed up?
I know if I pursue these questions with him, he’ll say, “Butzee! Not now! Vacuuming!” Even if he’s not. So I just have to what for, oh, maybe, a year from now and ask how he looked back on 2020 and see if a year’s worth of life experiences and education will give him more words to share about what his truth is. I know he’s one of those people who needs time to contemplate before he speaks — just like his mom, who often says about a variety of things, not just a movie — “The credits are still rolling!” She needs time to internalize what she has seen, heard and experienced. Apples don’t fall far from the tree!
For me, I worry so much about the affect the pandemic will have on my grandkids and their peers. An entire generation of young minds and bodies are going through something we can’t personally identify with at their age, other than what we felt in eighth grade when we had to read Anne Frank. And though, her writing may have appeared to be fictional to us, even though as Jews, we knew it was a real life story.
Do our grandkids look out the window, knowing a potential killer is out there, and yearn for the day they can run outside and scream, “I am free!” because I have to imagine, they might think they are being held hostage. As grandmothers, we know we are prisoners to this invisible predator. We may fear the science more readily than the kids, with dread that our own bodies could succumb to its pursuit. If ever there was a real generation gap, as I’ve seen and heard, it’s young people who say, “It won’t touch me.” We know it can touch us.
All this led me to thinking about the defining moments in our lives that changed the world as we saw and knew it. Is the Pandemic of 2020 that moment for our grandkids?
What was going through the minds of young people, on the one hand, seeing peaceful marches for change and then the juxtaposition of looters? I would hope, and encourage that they see the maturity of the young activist, Greta Thurnberg, and want to be part of the solution and not the problem.
I have to believe that for us Baby Boomers, JFK’s assassination was that historical moment when we were speechless with shock and disbelief. We all remember where we were the moment the news hit us; we can all share, word for word, moment by moment, what our reaction was, how we felt and what life-long impact that experience has remained embedded upon our brain.
Have you asked your grandchildren what their opinions, thoughts and views are about what the world/their experiences are today?
What a great teaching/learning moment to share your ah-ah story with them, as they share their thoughts with you. May I suggest that we seize the moment, create an everlasting memory with these precious children and see the similarities and differences of the adjectives used as they communicate their views on today’s events.
My 16 year old granddaughter, who is an extremely active Jewish teen, not only was supposed to be going to Jewish summer camp for a month in July but canceled due to the pandemic, has, for the past year, planned on taking her fall semester of her junior year in Israel and was supposed to leave in August, but is also canceled due to the pandemic. When I recently asked her how she was handling these disappointments, she commented:
“Right now it’s hard to take things personally and I know it will have an effect on me for the rest of my life. I know it will teach me new values and options about this world that we live in that I wouldn’t have already had. It will help me know how to protect myself and those who I care about. Most importantly, I think it will prepare me for challenges that arise while learning the ability to be flexible and open for the hardships I will have to endure.”
Out of the mouth of babes…
I pray that the pallette of the future for my grandkids, and yours, is bright with shades of joy, love, peace and health.