Gen X then and now is a weekly series each Monday on Taffeta.com. Read more here.
Then: Got notification in the mail where my bus stop would be. I busted out the street map to find it and then walked there on my own because my parents had left for work hours before. Came home and let myself in (latchkey kid, of course) and ate three bowls of cereal while watching a Gilligan’s Island rerun.
Now: My neighbor knocked on my door to find out why I wasn’t walking my fifth grader to the bus stop. She didn’t think it was safe to let him go the ONE BLOCK to the bus stop on his own. In order to not deal with her the next day, I drove him to the bus stop and dropped him off only to notice ten other parents sitting in cars watching to make sure their children got on the bus safely. Not gonna lie, I’m a bit mind boggled.
Then: I made myself lunch every day starting in first grade. We all ate it quickly then ran out to the playground.
Now: My kids asked me why I wasn’t coming to lunch at the school. What? That’s a thing? I decided to show up the next day to eat lunch with them. The smell is the same as it was in the 70s. Yuck, I was already regretting this. There were at least two dozen other parents there. When did this become a thing? I noticed they all look a lot younger than me (not Gen X). I was immediately surrounded by moms asking why I haven’t joined the PTA and if I was going to show up at the meeting tonight. I like teachers, so I figured I’d go to throw some support their way.
Then: I had to talk to a retired teacher friend who was there in the 70s for this one, she asked to remain nameless (for what will be obvious reasons). She said the PTA meetings used to be 2-3 parents and a bunch of teachers. They tried to get parents there but they just didn’t show up. The one time they got a huge crowd was because they made it a happy hour with alcohol, but then a lot of the parents, let’s say over-mingled with each other and the teachers, so they didn’t do that again. Awkward.
Now: I showed up, it was all parents and one teacher who looked like he had drawn the short straw and had to show up. I asked and he assured me that no, teachers don’t like these things anymore because while they could all use a little extra support in the class, the PTA meetings in particular were all the overzealous parents who micromanage every aspect of little Johnny and Susie’s life and are calling the teacher every third day to find out why their kids aren’t getting an A. It was hard to sit through the meeting because, yes, these parents (90% women) all definitely were interested in micro-managing and second guessing every aspect of their kids’ school day. Yikes, couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Then: If I got a D on a test, I would just wait by the mailbox and grab the note from school before my mom saw it. I’d toss that sucker right in the trash, and my parents would be totally oblivious. Somehow, I made it into college anyhow.
Now: I know my kids’ grades before they do because I get computer alerts. As a Gen Xer, when they do poorly, I talk to them about studying more. I hear that most of the other parents will call and blame the teacher and demand test retakes. Maybe my kids will just have to go to community college at first. At least wherever they end up I know they’ll have earned it. PROUD TO BE A GEN X PARENT!!!!