I thought my teens were going to be the biggest problem during COVID-19. Like everything with my teens, I was wrong.
It started with a phone call last Tuesday with my parents, ages 80 and 88, from their home in Sarasota.
“So, what’s on tap for the week?” I asked, bracing myself for the, “Well, we had to cancel this and cancel that due to corona.” As background, there is nothing my mother likes less than plans that have changed.
“Mahjong tomorrow at The Elks, bridge game on Thursday at Glen Ridge, and then we have the Paul Anka concert at the Van Wezel.”
I thought she was kidding.
“Wait, you’re not going to all of those things, right?”
“Stephanie, we are not going to stop living our lives.”
Um, did I say that?
I take a breath because what I want to say is: The average age at The Elks is probably 75, at Glen Ridge, 85, and average age at Paul Freakin’ Anka? Deceased.
“I didn’t say that. What I am SUGGESTING is that if you were going to do 10 things, maybe you do eight things instead.”
Silence. This conversation is going nowhere fast.
I call my sister instead.
“Mom and Dad are not listening at all.”
I share the conversation with her. She tells me that she was just about to call them to tell them to not get on a plane to Cleveland in a few weeks.
I tell my sister if she wants to remain the favorite daughter, she may want to wait a day or two.
As if she were reading my mind, a friend texts me:
I think I might write a letter to the governor of FL that he needs to set more restrictions because his constituents are high risk and not listening to advice!
I text back: “Oh, yours too?”
Yeah, they are playing golf right now—but they are each in their own cart.
Yeah. My parents are acting like teenagers … and my dad just called me bossy.
Is this the same generation that insists we call them when we land, tells us to rush our kid with a 101 fever to the doctor, and berates us for running our kids from activity to activity? What happened to those people?
What’s going on here? This entire generation is suffering from denial—they don’t think their group is at risk. In China the fatality rate for infected adults over 80 was 15-18%. There’s also an entirely different theory: They have nothing to be afraid of. They’ve survived the Great Depression and many ups and downs in the market, have raised their kids, and, if they are lucky, have already enjoyed retirement for some time.
Basically, they are giving COVID-19 the finger. If COVID-19 is how they leave this earth, then so be it. They’ve had their journey.
And if I were being COMPLETELY honest? I would like to give it the finger too.
But I can’t. First, I’ve got to get my parents (and, yes, my teenagers) to stay put.