Ageism cuts both ways: Don’t Discount the Kids


Gen-Xers to Millenials
Sharper than WE were?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the What Kind of World do YOU Want? Series

Eavesdropping on an interesting discussion

Shortly after calling for an end to Stigma in my 2017 September Awareness Days article, I had the occasion to revisit the topic through another lens.

Coming across a couple of “kids” in the nearby park where my puppy TinkerToy and I sometimes wander, I was reminded yet again of the need to guard against our knee-jerk assessments.

By looks alone, it would have been all too easy to dismiss the pair as yet another Blonde Barbie and an over-eager lad who wanted nothing so much as to get her alone and in private.

Since we seemed to be wandering the same paths, Tink and I just a bit behind them, I had an opportunity to eavesdrop on their lively conversation.

BOOKS! They were discussing classic novels, comparing and contrasting them in a manner that would have done any geek-level book club proud.

Their vocabulary was certainly equal to my own, and their knowledge of the books they were discussing was superior.  They looked to be no older than 18 –  freshmen or sophomores, most likely, attending one of the many nearby colleges.

When they turned around to head back my way, apparently reaching a dead-end on one of the paths that Tinker wanted to investigate, I asked them how well they knew the park and if they knew where a different trail led.

I discovered, in the lengthy conversation that followed, that they were both not only intelligent but delightful – and very kind to Tink.  It turned out they were just beginning their senior year in High School!

I hope they discovered that whatever they initially thought about me was inaccurate as well — especially since I am probably at least as old as their grandparents.

How many times do we assume a “generation gap” that doesn’t really exist?  And how many opportunities to populate our world with friends of all ages pass us by because we do?

Have you ever actually talked with a couple of dark-skinned dread-locked young men — or a few of those “kids” with spiky purple and green hair, belly-baring tee shirts with confrontational sayings — and nose rings? (I mean, about more than who does their hair and what happens when they have a cold and need to blow their nose.)

Respect goes both ways. Some of them have equally “out of the box” views on drug abuse, politics and life itself that just might save us all.

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