My cousin's 14-year old daughter, Lizzi, is spending time with me this summer and we are having a blast. My son Jackson loves his "ZZ" and I am loving having her here. We visited Nando's because that is where One Direction eats and I was feeling so "with it." (Yes, I know, just typing with it in quotes makes me old.) But then today I really started feeling my age. She found a toy shop I had never been in and it was the cutest place ever. Of course Jackson loved it because it had train tables (score five minutes of sitting down in peace and quiet!). When she had looked all around the store she sat with Jackson and I looked around. I felt 14 myself when I found Shrinky Dinks. You know, those plastic things you color and then bake, they shrink down and get thicker? I loved these when I was younger. I got so excited I grabbed some and took them back and said "Do you like Shrinky Dinks?" "What are Shrinky Dinks?" Ouch. That's okay, I am being proactive now, right? We are soooo buying the Shrinky Dinks. She indulges me.
When we get home we video chat with my cousin who has three more teenagers at home (and on video). Lizzi tells her mom we bought Shrinky Dinks. She gets appropriately excited and then you hear three voices in the background, "What are Shrinky Dinks?" My cousin tells me we are showing our age. Not a problem, proactive positive leader that I am. We are making Shrinky Dinks. We spend about an hour coloring and then put the first batch in the over. "THAT IS SOOOO COOOL!" Lizzi is a fan! Score one for the old people.
After Jackson goes to sleep we finish watching the good-but-not-appropriate-for-a-toddler Hansel and Gretel we started while he was napping this afternoon. I mention at the end that they definitely left it open for a sequel. She wonders aloud how since the story of Hansel and Gretel ends with them killing the witch. I point out that Buffy the Vampire Slayer went 8 years after she killed the first vampire. "Who's Buffy the Vampire Slayer?" I channel my inner Cathy - AAAACCCK! I explain to her that we will now be watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix. We choose the first episode (easily found because it is the first thing in my instant queue) and she says this was done in 1997? (Side note, how is the first Buffy episode 16 years old already?)
So we're sitting here watching Buffy argue for the first time with Giles about how she is retired and I am writing about this fun experience. Between Nando's and Shrinky Dinks we have both learned something from each other this summer. (I now know why the One Direction guys eat there - the food is awesome.) But we wouldn't have had these experiences if we hadn't opened up to each other and been willing to learn. I don't know if she will ever love Buffy the Vampire Slayer as much as I do, but it doesn't matter so much. I am honored that she watched an episode with me.
How often in the workplace do we assume something based on a person's age? They are so far from cool I can't be seen with them? They have body art and piercings, I can't be seen with them? When really, if we just give someone a chance, we might find a new favorite restaurant, hobby, or tv show? Next time you start to write someone off, challenge yourself to learn something new. You'll be doing both of you a favor.
What have you learned unexpectedly from someone in another generation?