Since I’m old now (at least, the server at Denny’s must have thought so, because she gave me the Seniors discount), I have decided to start doing the things older people are supposed to do.
No, I’m not yelling at kids to get out of my yard. I’ve been doing that since I was 12. I mean “generativity.” My human development professor told us that when you hit the big six-oh, you should sense a “concern for establishing and guiding the next generation… [this]is said to stem from a sense of optimism about humanity” (Erik Erikson). So I decided to go out and get me some of that.
My basic go-to for anything having to do with millennials is Starbucks. That’s handy, because I really like their iced black tea (not green tea- which, in the words of my very profound 4-year-old grandson, is “super-yucky”). So I went to Starbucks to see if there was anyone to whom I could pass on my wisdom and experience and maybe guilt into buying me an iced tea.
It didn’t take long for some millennials to show up. It was a male and female couple. The young man was very nervous. He was doing his best to make a good impression. He had obviously put a lot of care into his wardrobe for the evening. His man bun was nice and tight, the strings of his hoody were the same length, and he wore what was obviously a brand new pair of pajama pants.
On the other hand (if I’m any judge of female body language and facial cues, and I am- I had three sisters, so I’m an expert on female body language and facial cues, especially the ones that suggest I’m about to get smacked in the head), the young lady was firmly in control of the situation. She smiled at him, but made sure she followed every new young man who entered the store with her eyes so he didn’t get cocky or feel any level of self-esteem. (She didn’t follow me anywhere with her eyes- probably because she thought I wanted her to buy me an iced tea.)
Anyway, I watched them for a while, which they probably thought was creepy, and came to the conclusion that I had nothing to teach the young man about blowing a first date. I thought I could have taught the young woman something about generosity with old people, but based on her cues I knew she wouldn’t listen.
So I decided that I probably didn’t have any sense of optimism about humanity. But that was a couple of weeks ago.
Last Saturday, five high school students from Clovis North, along with two parents, showed up to paint the exterior of our new house on Rialto Ave. in Clovis. The young men and women were fantastic and so were the parents. They worked steady and hard, and completely finished the project- and a couple of them had never painted before. One of the parents was the chairman for Habitat Fresno- Randy Kammerer.
And then six high school students from CART (Center for the Advancement of Research and Technology) came to our Affiliate office to receive training to do outreach, perform neighborhood revitalization projects, and retail work at our ReStores to raise funds for home builds. They were earnest, courteous and smart. (I say “courteous” and “smart” because they laughed at all my jokes.)
Deuteronomy 6 tells us that God is very interested in “generativity.” In his farewell address to Israel, Moses said,
Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, MSG)
Notice Moses’ command that the home and the community are the places for teaching the next generation. Habitat Fresno’s goal is building homes, neighborhoods and hope. We are interested in generativity. We have optimism for the future, and know we have a responsibility to demonstrate God’s love with homes in communities, so hope for the future can be carried on.
If I can figure out a way to get a free iced tea out of this, I’m golden.