Tag Archives: kids

Mindset List Highlights

Every year Beloit College releases its “Mindset List.” This list is basically an overview of the cultural world that this year’s college freshmen live in. It began in 1998 when Professor Tom McBride and Ron Nief created the list to help teachers and faculty better understand the basic differences between the world they grew up in and the one that the students now knew. It really is eye-opening when you come to the realization about how different our culture is now as opposed to 20 years ago and how an 18-year-old today might view the world.

This year is the class of 2014. These students were born in 1992. For example, these students have never lived in a world without color T.V. or CD’s,  and they likely have never even seen a drive-in movie theater. It’s strange to think, but actually being aware of little things like this can help teachers and students better communicate and relate to one another. I picked out a few of the most interesting and surprising from the list to share with you today:


The terms “caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been used and understood – Coffee is taking over the world!!! I, for one, am perfectly happy with it, of course. Coffee is not the devil. Coffee just told me to say that. All hail coffee. (Blank stare)

Few, if any, students know how to write in cursive – This was kind of already going out the door when I was a kid, thank God. Really unnecessary if you ask me, especially since most people can’t even spell properly in the first place. One thing at a time here people.

Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause – Holy crap, let’s pull it together here people! Your empathy and compassion levels are not in competition with anyone else’s and they are not measured by the amount of ribbon magnets you have plastered on your trunk or wear on your chest. Don’t get bamboozled by breast cancer awareness lawn mowers and autism shoelaces. It’s a pink nightmare out there.

Email is too slow for them – I have to admit I’ve been sucked into the texting game. I wonder how the whole thing is going to start affecting people’s patience levels? Everything seems to be available at a moment’s notice these days.

Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess – I’m sure the latter was thrilled with the emergence of the “lovely lady humps” version of her namesake. If you don’t even understand this one, it’s okay.

They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone – Oh man, I had completely forgotten about that! Those things never stayed coiled properly for longer than a week out of the box. Somewhere there are just heaps of tangled phone cord disasters that will never be undone. Don’t pull on it, you’ll just stretch it out! So what? Now home invaders have to bring their own restraining devices? Not cool.

They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day – The watch industry must be seriously tanking in every direction. Look at your wrist. Are you wearing a watch right now? If so, you are definitely in the minority. I haven’t put on a watch in about 6 years and it was only because I was in the army and they have this funny thing about being on time. Go figure.

“Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows – Not only that, but what about those channel logos in the corners? When the hell did that start up? I had never even seen one of those until I returned to the states about 10 years ago and they were on every channel. I know I’m watching Spike TV!!! Stop it with the explosions in the corner!

Czechoslovakia has never existed – I know, and I miss it so much everyday.

The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs – End result? We now have the fair and balanced FOX News! Great.

Nirvana is on the classic oldies station – Awesome. Does that make it any cooler to listen to the classic rock stations? God, I hope so. I’ll be the coolest dude around.

Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine – Hey, when I came home from school I only needed one channel. As long as that channel was the one with Duck Tales, Rescue Rangers, Tiny Toons, and Animaniacs. C’mon people, you know what I’m talkin’ about.

Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies – C’mon Airwolf!

…and the final mind-blowing revelation about this year’s class is??????

The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping – Ouch! This one really hits home and shows my age. Seriously?!? He’s been rapping that long? I was in high school damn it! I don’t know… I guess I just always loved his doggy-style…

For the full list read on here: http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2014.php


Top Ten Ways to Squander the Best Years of Your Life

Who doesn’t love a good top ten list? Especially when the list is just sad and self-deprecating. Standing here at age 32, I look back at my teenage years and early twenties and a single tear squeaks out from my cringing eye. I hope everyone finds some humor in the travesty that was my youth:

10. Go straight home after school, do not pass go, do not collect any cool points – Who has any fun doing this? Backpack over both shoulders, hair parted cleanly on the left like a fascist dictator, broad-striped polo, overly snug blue jeans that never knew the touch of the top of my XJ-900 discount high-tops. I silently walked to and from the bus stop, head down, minding my own business everyday. Never hungout too late or forgot to call home. Good God man, do something with yourself!

9. Date a strictly religious girl in high school – Life is too short to spend it trying to breech the walls of godly servitude with the inadequacies of male teenage hormones. My days and nights spent wooing a girl who already had a man in her life. My 15-year-old game with the ladies was no match for The Jesus.

8. Play video games until eye twitches involuntarily – Nothing says “Chick Magnet” or “Life of the Party” like beating Super Mario Bros. 3 in 25 minutes and then taking polaroid pictures of the screen to prove it to all your friends at school the next day. Oh yeah, I did that. Nobody seemed to be as impressed as I thought they would be, which pretty much sums up the extent of most of the accomplishments of my youth.

7. Ferociously consume Doritos and Pepsi like they’re going out of business tomorrow – Combine this one with my video game prowess and you have a formula that can’t help but keep you from getting any action with the ladies. What does Johnny-Football-Hero have that I don’t have? Besides the fact that he is not borderline diabetic, his skin is not pale and blotchy from lack of exposure to the sun, his teeth are white and his fingers aren’t stained orange.

6. Work at a fast food joint/clean toilets in Wal-Mart – As you can see here, I got the privilege of experiencing the intricacies of the entire digestive process first hand. McDonald’s in Wal-Mart, followed by the ascension of my powerful career to stockboy in the Wal-Mart itself. Talk about having your life-force drained on a daily basis. I guess the only upside to this is things have to get better from here, right?

5. Put off getting a car/love masheen – Worst. Decision. Ever. The only means of escape that you have as a young man working a crappy job, living in a crappy apartment in a crappy town. Having a car is your own little piece of freedom and solitude. My advice for any young man/woman? Get in a car and just drive away. See where you end up.

4. Get involved with a married woman – This should seem mind-numbingly obvious… to some. To others, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” I wish I could go back in time and kick my own ass. It wouldn’t matter I suppose. When I was 19 you couldn’t tell me anything. My 19-year-old self would look at me now and try to tell him he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about… what a waste.

3. Have kids before you’re done growing up – Were you forced to grow up too fast after a rocky childhood? Do you work at a fast food restaurant or clean up human feces at Wal-Mart? Are you involved with a married woman? Do you have no car, money, friends, life, or future to speak of? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then you might have what it takes to be a real moron and compound your problems infinitely!

2. Join the army – Why be miserable at home when you can do it overseas, in a desert, surrounded by people with explosives who hate you! You didn’t really want those eight years of your life from 21-29, did you? What were you going to do anyway? Start your life?

1. Marry a bona fide lunatic – Ah, the discolored and rotting cherry on top of it all. I think the fact that she got drunk before our luxurious Reno wedding should have been at least one small clue. Ya know, in case I missed the paternity and adultery issues from before. Damn, was I an astute young man or what? I spell relief with a D.

Thank God that’s all over. I’m sure my 30’s will go off without a hitch….

Growing Up

I would imagine that it would seem pretty ludicrous to turn to your 10 year old son or daughter and ask them what qualities and characteristics that they feel they will be looking for in their future spouse. If you were at a friend’s house and they said to their 5th grader…

“Hey, do you think that 15 years from now you will choose a mate who is spontaneous, irreverent, and tons of fun or do you think that maybe you’d like someone more stable and predictable? You know, someone you might be able to count on more to be there when life seems too overwhelming. Given your life experiences so far, what kind of person do you see yourself as being, a decade and a half from now?”

… I’m pretty sure that your brain might cramp up and cease functioning for a moment. Who would put that kind of pressure on a kid so young? Why would anyone try to pry that kind of a decision out of a 10 year old when all they should be worried about is being a kid and figuring out what in the world is going on around them on a daily basis? Well, thankfully I haven’t actually witnessed anything like this first hand, but I’m sure I will someday.

Maybe there are some people who talk to their kids like this, but everyone I know would have quite a problem initiating such an adult conversation with a kid who still wears Spongebob Squarepants tighty-whities. However, nobody seems to have any problem at all asking a 5th grader, or younger, what they want to do in life… what they plan for a possible future career. When you think about it, this second question brings with it almost all the same decisions and problems that the first one did.

With little, to no, life experience you are asking them to conjure up some vague idea of what their future selves will think and feel 10 to 15 years down the road! How could they possibly imagine such a world? I have a hard time doing this myself, especially when I look at how I felt and thought 10 to 15 years in the past. I was a mess and had no idea who I truly was. I will probably look back 15 years from now and laugh at myself again.

All I’m saying is that when I look at my son and daughters, I too wonder about what the future holds for them in a perpetually uncertain world. I may have even asked them what they want to be when they grow-up, but I have to remind myself to ease up sometimes. Just because I am curious, and I worry about bumps in the road, and I want to protect them from harm, doesn’t mean that I need to instill in them any sense of urgency to become adults before they are ready. If I’m nervous and worrisome and trying to arrange and organize every aspect of my life, it doesn’t mean I should sabotage my kids with a Daddy-Bomb of responsibility. There will be plenty of time for them to get hit with that later.

My mother, like everyone else, asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Being a poor kid in an all-american capitalist society, I asked what jobs made the most money. She told me doctors and lawyers, and since viewing people’s insides after horrible machinery mishaps didn’t excite me, I chose the latter. I am obviously not a lawyer, but my mom still loves me I guess.

The funny thing is how many people will sometimes try to hold their kids to what they answered at the age of 10 or 12 to a supposedly and seemingly, harmless question. They ask them the question that they couldn’t possibly wrap their brains around all the aspects of, and then repeatedly bring it up throughout the years to come. Sure, it’s in a very passive way and usually not meant to be a command or order, but it does inadvertently steer a kid in a direction they might not end up going, often to the disappointment of the expectant parent.

Parents. Stop doing this to yourself. If you wait long enough, THEY will tell YOU what they want to be and everyone will be much happier. By the way, I am referring to children who have already gotten passed the toddler dreams of being a policeman, a firefighter, a pretty kitty, a fairy, or a ninja. It’s also funny how nobody takes a kid very seriously when they say they want to be a policeman or a fireman, as if it’s way too cliche to be legitimate. I wonder how people in these professions feel when they hear it from their own children… I guess ninja father/son discussions is a topic for another day…