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When Replacing Pubic Hair With Tattoos & Grad School Is Not Enuf

August 10, 2014

Parents tend to live through their children, – either aspirationally for bragging rights or protectively to pre-empt pain. While instinctual, these autonomic reactions are folly once those children become adults. Absent heinous maleficence children survive and occasionally prosper, just like their parents.

While objectively true, the parental mind – mine at least – fears the worst and grabs for the most for our children. But every potential for danger or distinction sets part of the parental mind into the overdriven mode of “what if”‘s and “maybe I can”‘s to shield or propel our legacies via heroic intercession.

The serendipity of timing cuts both ways. This period in history is defined by the unknowable implications of a pervasive technological revolution that renders millions of resumes irrelevant at the drop of keystroke. The foundation of this scary era is its demographic backstop, we Boomers, who have been ego-fed and hubris finished over the last 70 years.

When narcissistic control freak boomer parents have children who come into adulthood in an era that has starkly limited underpinnings of cultural correctness, economic bankability or moral authority the normal fears and hopes of parenthood become epochally enhanced.

The effectiveness of any parental grasps at control are term-limited. Subsistence farming once meant kids stayed home or starved. “The New Economy” means our children extend education away from us: kids leave to live.

Oh yes, 31 year-old noontime pajama-clad gamers do infest more homes than ever, but Pew Research says that its a minimal increase (32% to 37%) given the freakish malaise of the Great Recession. Most kids still grow up and go away.

Even those in-house or close-by are naturally more alien than their worshipful innocence prior to pubic hair – which ironically now seems to be extremely unfashionable – much of its now naked area replaced by tattoos elsewhere. Just like their parents, our children want to be in control. And both of us want control over the same thing – the kid.

In the 20th century, we could grow, ‘Phro, perm or Dred our hair as a sign we had a hip spark of self-determination. But hair was cut, grew back and the hair that lives under your clothing was just an odd vestige. That hair was politicized for womyn who saw its removal as male dehumanization of half of humanity – fur became the personification of sexual equivalence. Now, ironically, the removal of that same hair by both genders has become a gender equalizer.

But this is an era of radical uncertainty. Perforating your skin to create a 2D recreation of your own billboard is a “I don’t care” act that shrugs away any potential for making a bad choice – easier when there fewer and fewer “right” choices to be had. Additionally controlling the intimate, – the removal of hair that is naturally self-limiting to somehow infantilizing your body in a porn paean is an act of control sanctioned by the Information Age’s bottom line industry: sex.

This casual, anecdotal observation, based on the parent hive comparing notes and visual evidence  of unending Barista inking was backed up by a friend last week, who should know. An emergency room doc who sees scores of patients a week, he proffered “every one under 30 has tattoos and no public hair.”

But the symbolic acts of staining or revealing skin are definitionally superficial, but the motivations are, of course, deeper than that.

The incubator of academia that infantilizes the subordinates (in this paradigm called students) has become an overwhelming presence in our cultural outlook. Where once 12 years of schooling was fine for our grandparents, it grew to 16 years for most of us, to 20? 30? infinite? years of a hothouse reality propped up with borrowed funding.

Whether its acquiring an additional knowledge base to function, or the knowledge once learned is meaningless and new info needs injection, or just that living under the academic rock on debt you pay-back “someday” seems reasonable to school-bragging parents and reality-shifting kids, we seem to be perpetually reacting, versus risking.

“Knowledge Is Good”: said Emil Faber in the movie Animal House, but school is not just about knowledge. It has become several alternate realities: literal preoccupation, plausible avoidance of boredom, defendable hunker down in a time of unknowable expectations.

Amid these squirrely currents, boomer parents, with an anchor firmly in the 2oth century want to brag, protect and help their most precious achievement: the humans they created. Those offspring have sprung – either in a few weeks to undergrad for some, of for the last decade in the hope of getting somewhere for many more.

In diving into school, shedding hair that is mostly unseen, and coloring skin to pique public presence, our children have grabbed hold of what they could in a time where outcomes continuously evolve with the next chip or app.

Hair may be allowed to grow back, tattoos lazered away, and our children may come home, but they have left us as parents and their childhood in a place of memory that cannot be recreated. Mac and cheese tastes as good as it did when you were 6, but you will never be 6 again, or for most of we Boomer parents, the parent of a 6 year old again.

Our children, naturally, have left their parents. The big difference now is that neither parent nor child has much of a map to where a destination might be.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2014 5:11 am

    This is great writing and powerful truths. JMGruendel


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