generation gap

The phrase "generation gap" is defined in Wikipedia as: a popular term used to describe differences between people of a younger generation and their elders, especially between a child and his or her parent's generation. The term first became popularized in Western countries during the 1960's and described the cultural differences between the young and their parents.

Today, as I played the phrase over in my head, I realized I had come to an understanding of the phrase; not unlike like a young child showing her understanding by applying it and using it in her world. I 'get' it, in other words.

My father-in-law Bill graciously gave his time and money to lend a hand in finishing off a basement room so Madison could have her own bedroom space. There is a 4.5 year difference between Madison and our second child, Ellie, and they have shared a room since Ellie was born. Last winter Mads started complaining about not having enough privacy, so we moved her to the basement knowing we would finish off the space ....... eventually. Life got in the way and the seasons morphed quicker than we wanted. The grandparents were concerned about Mads' room not being done, so Bill set a date and announced he was coming over to get the job started.

I love my father-in-law. He is witty, kind, intelligent and giving. The two of us can banter back and forth with verbal slams indefinitely, or until someone else in the room tells us to stop the behavior before it gets out of hand. Bill is happy by nature and often whistles or sings a little ditty just so everyone around him knows just how joyous he feels. Even when not everyone feels so much joy. Especially when not everyone wants to share his bounty. Irritating at the most and funny at the least.

This week has been a tough one with my girls being gone and Dave working longer than usual hours. You would think I would appreciate Bill's company and he would ask me to work joyfully next to him.

:: Enter Generation Gap ::

Bill is from an era where a thick line divides what is seen as woman's work and what is seen as a man's job. Now, he is not overtly direct about this. He chooses to utilize the 'passive aggressive' path to get across his thoughts.

Example 1: I mowed the lawn
Bill: Why did you mow the lawn? It wasn't even long! You could have waited for Dave to do it later.

Example 2: He asked for a fan
Me: Yes, we have a fan. It's in the garage and I'll go and grab it in just a sec.
Bill: No! No, no. I can get it.
Me: But it is up in the rafters and I know right where it is. Let me get it.
Bill: No! I said I'd go and get it. You could get hurt, let me get it.

Example 3: Dirty Windows
Bill: Boy, those sliding glass doors sure are dirty. No wonder the kitchen is so dark!

I know, I know. These actions and statements do not mean anything. It is who he is and I am a product of another generation. I see something, figure out how to do it and take on the challenge. If I am being lazy, I will bat my eyelashes and ask Dave to do it for me. Bill is not used to women in this role. No offense meant, no offense taken.

On Monday the behavior was cute. By Tuesday it was irritating, but still tolerable. Today? I want to wring his neck.

Maybe if I was raised in a generation where the family consisted of extended family and family once removed. Everyone was welcome and our business belonged to everyone. I appreciate the closeness and the tremendous bonds it must form between family members, but I am not used to it so I am not comfortable with it. This is my home, my work, my sanctuary and I tend to get a little pissy when I don't feel like I can be myself in my own home.

That all said, I will miss Bill when he goes back home. Who couldn't love a man who holds his grand babies like this?!

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