When I was in my twenties, I noticed something interesting—the people I hung out with where all older than me. They were folks like my managers at work, volunteers at church and guys I met in the course of building a business. Life seemed to just kind of throw us together.
My wife found the same thing. She was a young mother of one. The moms in her play group, hanging out in the lobby of the pre-school, or volunteering with her were almost all older than her. Many had more than one child—all where founts of knowledge.
On the rare occasion we could afford to go out, we found ourselves socializing with these same folks. Almost unconsciously, we found ourselves learning from their experience—little things like the best pediatrician in town or the best auto-repair shop and big things like how to budget for a growing family and plan for the future.
A few weeks back, my wife invited my youngest daughter’s friends and families over for a Friday night pizza party. About halfway through the party, I looked around and realized I was the oldest person in the room.
How did that happen?
I liked being the youngest.
Now, I was the one listening to stories about the unfair politics of the local travel baseball team or how stressed they were over whether they should send their fifth grader to the public high school or a private school. How would that translate to college?
I didn’t say anything—just listened in amazement. This is what I sounded like not too long ago—probably worse.
The night wound down and life went on, but ever since, I’ve been left with the curious realization that I’m not as young as I once was.
We touch upon this phenomenon in our feature on “Intergenerational Programming”—something parks and recreation departments are starting to incorporate into their regular activity schedule. The idea is to provide and promote activities that connect youth to older adults—and hopefully foster real learning and mentorship in a fun setting.
It’s a great idea that mimics real life.
And, for those of you who might be finding yourself on the wrong end of the intergenerational gap, I offer the advice of the great and wise Toby Keith – “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was!”
Till next month…
Rodney J. Auth