I miss the old Pre-Technology days when life was a lot simpler and way less expensive. My brother and my Dad have an ongoing argument about this. Dad says that back in the 70s and 80s, when he was raising us, it was a lot tougher to make ends meet. My brother says, “No way. Life is a thousand times more expensive today than it used to be.” Now that I am in the middle of raising two teen girls, I have to agree with my brother on this one. The expenses in my household are kicking my financial ass.
Take, for example, technology. At this very moment, as I write this, both of my daughters are sitting on the couch completely “tech-zoned out.” Emily, 14, has her headphones on and she’s Spotifying Indie music on the I-Pad while at the same time You-Tubing “Olive Oil and Mayonnaise Split End Treatments for Long Hair.” I’m not even making this up. Amanda, 16, is on the other end of the couch plugged in to the laptop making herself super busy Facebooking/Twittering/Instagraming or whatever the hell she does over there, and texting 14 friends at the same time on her phone. Forget trying to talk to them. I can always try using sign language to signal that dinner is ready, and they may or may not choose to respond, depending on their appetite at the moment.
Believe it or not, sometimes I think I am lucky because my teenagers are actually in the same room as I am, so at least I get to see their faces most of the time. I have talked to other moms who don’t see their teens for days because they are holed up in their rooms doing God knows what (but I’ll bet it’s NOT cleaning). So I know what my girls are doing most of the time, even though I don’t understand the need for all this stupid technology. OK, I’m kind of a Techno Challenged Dork. There, I admitted it. But it’s nothing that a few years in community college can’t correct. Or not.
The house that I grew up in had ONE telephone, which weighed about 12 pounds, and was mounted to the living room wall. If you had an urgent need to make a call, like say to your foxy new boyfriend, then guess what? Too bad. You had to wait in line, my friend. And in a house with three teenagers, there was a whole lot of waiting around. And if you ever thought you were going to have a private conversation, no ma’am, that was never going to happen. You could count on either your little sister, your little brother or your mom listening to every word you said. Come to think of it, my mom probably knew a whole lot more about my “relationships” than I will ever know about my girl’s. That’s a frightening thought.
Here’s another disturbing fact. Every teen today has a private, portable internet on their phone. That godforsaken device does everything now – text, send emails, surf the net, chat with burly death row inmates posing as teen boys, play games, take pictures, listen to music or guide long-range missiles into Cuba. Everything, that is, except make audible phone calls. They haven’t figured that part out yet. I lose sleep over this, people. Since I work, I am not around 24-7, so I really have no other choice but to scare the BahJeebies out of them with true news stories about internet-related abductions and such. Plus, I regularly spy on their phones and Facebook pages. Oh C’mon! You know you do it, too!
Speaking of overpriced and unnecessary technology, how about 227 cable channels and not a damn good show to watch on any of them. When we were kids, there were 3 channels, and if nothing good was on, you went *gasp* OUTSIDE to play. You know, where trees and stuff are. My teenagers — and the rest of their entire generation — don’t even watch TV at all. They are too busy watching the computer screen or the phone screen instead. No wonder network TV channels are losing viewers by the millions. Cable channels aren’t offering anything better either. I refuse to watch “Honey Boo Boo” or “Duck Dynasty” and I don’t give a damn about the Kardashians. You call that programming? I remember when my family used to sit in the same room together and actually watch the same TV show, which was FREE, by the way, courtesy of a metal antennae on top of our roof. Sure, it was mindless junk like “Happy Days” or “Sonny and Cher”, but I am convinced that it had to be better than watching that Korean guy on You Tube sing “Hey, Sexy Lady” for the 200th time.
Besides the outrageous costs of staying “connected” today, here’s a list of other things that we (the parents of my generation) are forced to spend our hard-earned money on just to keep up with the Jones’. (I hate you, Jones’.)
The Cost of Groceries. My Dad used to buy a half-a-cow at the local butcher for $30 bucks and it would last our family of six for a month. I spend over $200 bucks every single week for a family of four. We are either giant gluttons, or that’s a ridiculous amount of inflation.
The Cost of Transportation. My Dad bought my first used car, a 1981 Dodge Omni, for $500 bucks. Sure, it was a huge piece of CRAP, and basically left me stranded on every major road in Houston, but hey, it was my own car, for Pete’s sake. Now I can’t even buy a used TIRE for $500, much less a used car to go with it. Amanda will be taking the bus until she’s 30. And don’t forget to add in the jaw-dropping costs of teen insurance, car maintenance and gas prices. Remember when gas was 99 cents a gallon? Good times.
Home Prices. My Dad bought the house we lived in for 30 years in 1967. He paid $109 a month. I’m not even going to tell you what we pay to live in our house, it’s downright shameful. I can’t even buy toilet paper for $109 a month.
The Cost of Raising a Girl. We have to go out and buy a new dress every 5 minutes. There’s always a social emergency that requires spending an entire paycheck at Forever 21. When I was a teen, we went to Sears at back-to-school time, bought a couple of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, and that was IT for the entire year.
The Cost of Education. If you think public education is free, you are sadly mistaken. I am hit up by one teacher or another every single day for fees such as choir dress fees, school supplies fees, field trip fees, dance or special occasion fees, lab fees, teacher appreciation fees, AP test fees, the Texas Legislature’s Conspiracy to Make Me Broke fee, project fees — I could go on and on, but I am starting to get depressed. I’m thinking of taking up drinking right now, but damn it, I can’t afford it.
I could list a lot more reasons why my generation is more Piss-Poor than my parent’s generation. But instead, I’m gonna go hunt down a bottle of Old Granddad Whiskey in the back of my pantry, pour myself a stiff one, and watch old re-runs of “Happy Days” on You Tube.