Sunday, April 7, 2013

Grown-ups

It's often hard for me to remember that I'm actually a grown-up.  I've heard that this common for many people from ages 20 to 102.   I wonder who decided I could be trusted with my own children.  I can't remember when I became old enough to make major life decisions.  I am often relieved when there are grown-ups around in case anything should go wrong. (That may be part of the oldest child syndrome.)

On the other hand, I have been so frustrated with parents, church leaders, and other people who were supposed to be "the grown-ups."  And they let me down.  They didn't prepare me for the world of 2013.  They didn't know about globalization, multiculturalism, or religious pluralism.  They didn't tell me that racism and inequality were rampant in our society, and not just a "little problem in the past."  They have no idea how to use social media.

That is totally unfair of me to say, though.  I'm starting to get that.  For example, I actually don't always know how to use social media totally until my younger siblings fill me in.  Maybe I can roll with it faster because I'm not so much older than they are, but that doesn't change the fact that I am now officially what or who I have both loved and despised...  a grown-up.

I'm starting to realize that maybe my pastors,  parents, and most teachers didn't tell me about racism, among other things, because they didn't know either.  I mean, there was a time when I didn't know, and then someone told me.  So I learned.  I guess I have the sense that the grown-ups should have known before me.  I shouldn't be the one telling them because they're the grown-ups and I'm the... okay, not a child anymore. Growing up is useful for perspective, if nothing else.

And then I have to remember that grown-ups did other things for me that were really important.  For example,  grown-ups kept me alive for the first years of my life, as in, I would have died if they hadn't fed me and kept me from running in front of a car.  In the later years of my life, grown-ups were mature enough to give me a place to live when I had nothing but sass and rebellion to give back. Grown-ups did their best to tell me everything they believed was important for life.  They gave me their beliefs and ideology because that's all they had to give.

I should recognize that whatever knowledge I have now is because of the grown-ups who have taught me, or even failed to teach me.  My parents, pastors,  and teachers got some things right and they got some things wrong. But even the things they got wrong caused me to look for different answers.  So really I should be thanking them for being screwed up. (Don't tell them I said that.)

It's also a little staggering to realize that now I'm imparting all my beliefs, prejudices, errors, and mistakes on my own children.  Awesome.  In all fairness, I guess I hope they don't hold it against me too much when they realize all the things I didn't know to tell them, all the ways I screwed them up when I was really trying to help.

I also hope that when my kids come to me with new ideas or new ways of doing things, that I will listen to them.  I hope that I don't shoot them down right away or tell them that they are being brainwashed by their college professors.   I hope that I'm open to change, even if it's uncomfortable or not the way I would have done things.  In all my learning and changing, I can't ever forget that my knowledge is limited without others who are older and younger to help me fill in the gaps.

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