I was listening to the radio the other morning, as I do most mornings at work. I tend to listen to sports-talk radio while I sit at my desk and slag away at my mindless job. Like many people here in the DC area, I am a transplant from another (and frankly more awesome) part of the country. I hail from the heaven on Earth known as San Diego, CA, but that’s not really part of the story, I just like saying it.
I listen to a show in the mornings called the Sports Junkies. While the show is obviously geared around sports, the four guys who host the show bring a lot of pop culture and other aspects of life into the format to help reach a broader range of listeners. All four hosts are also married and have kids, which anyone knows about radio shtick, helps tremendously with anecdotes and jokes.
The majority of the jokes and humor are obviously geared towards the main demographic of the show (which I fall into), the male 18-45 range we hear so much about in entertainment. I just realized as I typed that how much closer I am to one side of that demo than the other; yikes, lol. And while I normally laugh along and write off most of the jokes about their wives and kids and normal shtick, one topic that was discussed on a recent show kind of grabbed me, and hasn’t let go.
On a recent show the men were joking and wondering if their kids (all who have grown up in what some would call a fairly cushy life due to their father’s decent fame in the radio industry, and thus sizable paychecks) did really possess the necessary life skills to “make it” if they were gone. One of the foursome joked/lamented that his son lays around all day on weekends and complains about being bored, all the while having all the trappings of iPads and iPhones, video games and every other piece of media entertainment readily at his fingertips. Another talked about how his kids don’t know what it feels like to sit in regular seats at sporting event as they have grown up around the free box seats and hook-ups their dads get via their local celebrity status. And finally all the men joked (or as it is in the DC slang “jonin”) on another member of the show because he discourages his son to wash his own car, and instead take it to a car wash to have someone else do it.
Again, all the comments were made in jest; however, there was a very real common thread in the jokes, and that was that their kids have all grown up soft, and have no life skills. Now, it wasn’t necessarily the fact that their kids were being depicted as lazy that stuck with me, or the fact that this can be said for a lot of kids these days; as technology advances we as a society creep closer to the couch; soon we’re all going to look like the people on Wall-E. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up.
What got me was a comment made by one of the hosts. He claimed that while he hated to see his son lay around all day and complain to be bored, and even doubts his kid knows how to make a sandwich (SAY WHAT?!?), he didn’t really hold it against him because he himself is not a “manly-man” and didn’t really know, or even want to teach his son how to be a man.
OK, I’m going to leave the “how to be a man” comment for another time, because that phrase, #1 – pisses me off, and #2 – is probably a series of posts within itself. However; what I will talk about is how we, as fathers, or even mothers, let our kids just float along in life because we may not feel ourselves that we are “manly enough” to teach them life skills. I mean, isn’t that the definition of parenting; to teach our children to eventually be functioning adults some day? Isn’t that what you signed up for when you decided to procreate?
Look, I kind of get where that thought process can come from, as I was raised in a one parent household. And it’s not like my mom was a loving/nurturing/supportive person either. My mother’s parenting technique would make growing up with the Lannister’s like a cake-walk.
But despite my upbringing, I still learned to survive. Granted, I don’t really know how to sew, or even really change the oil on my car, but I do know basic life skills like cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, and even changing a flat tire; all skills that each member of the show joked/lamented that their kids knew nothing about.
Why is this funny? Why is it funny to watch the generations that we are responsible for raising and teaching, flounder and struggle with the life’s most basic skills?
Look, I by no means see myself as a manly-man. Or at least not how manly-men have been depicted in the media for many, many years. But, I am someone’s dad, and I am someone’s husband, and that, in and of itself is enough of a driving force for me to want to know things; to gain knowledge on how to survive and provide, and furthermore to pass along that knowledge to my son.
I refuse to accept that my son, and any future children, should be allowed to lay around all day and do nothing with themselves. I pray for my son’s sake that he never says the phrase, “I’m bored” to me while growing up because I will simply explain to him how stupid that sounds. I saw comedian Louis CK on some late night talk show some time back, and explained what he said to his daughters when they said they are bored to him. He said, “’I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.’”
Like I said, I know most of what the guys on the Sports Junkies were saying was meant to be light-hearted and semi-self-deprecating, but it’s at times like that, when people least expect they’re being vulnerable, that truth leaks out. I would venture to guess that many parents feel the exact same way about their kids as the guys were joking about. And instead of going on and correcting that by gaining knowledge themselves to pass on to their kids, they just sit back and watch a whole generation begin to fade away into the vast nothingness that is technology.