I thought I was invincible when I was younger. Not now. My aches and pains are adding up. I am a Baby Boomer but the baby part is getting pretty stale. So I have decided to share my aging concerns with other Baby Boomers I meet in my mediation practice. As all mediators know, sometimes you have to talk off the point to 1) relax the tensions, 2) lighten up the mood, 3) attempt to bond with the parties, 4) say something while you try to figure out how to move the mediation ball. So if I have a Boomer in my mediation, I bring up the aging aches and pains topic during one of those off-the-point moments.
Case in point. I brought up the aches and pains topic with a mediation participant we will call Henry. Once I broached the topic with a simple throw down comment about my TMJ, Henry was quick to respond. Henry said “I have shin splints from running. I never used to get them.”
We quickly determined that we have tennis elbow although neither one of us plays tennis or any other type of repetitive sport. I didn’t mention a possible repetitious arm movement connected with drinking beer. Rather I think my aggressive weeding in my garden was the culprit. Henry was equally perplexed about his tennis elbow although he had a sure fire remedy that involved freezing water in Dixie cups then placing those little circles of ice on the aching spot. Sounded like too much trouble to me. What’s wrong with a simple ice cube but Henry is a precise type of person.
Henry and I tied each other with our equally bad necks. My knee was worse than his but he trumped me with his foot surgery. I rallied back with TMJ and a $650 mouth guard winning the injury round. Henry was gracious about my injury win but closed the conversation with a tale about his friend Sam. Henry said his friend Sam went to bed fine one night but woke up the next morning with a broken leg. And he sleeps alone! I couldn’t top that one. So we ended the aches and pains conversation with a tie.
Another popular topic with Boomers, is the Millennials. Another mediation participant, we shall call her Cathy, recently complained of her issues with employing the Millennials. “Millennials have no drive,” she said. “All they do is stick their nose in their phones.” “Another Boomer, Wade jumped in and said the only way he can get his kids to come to the dinner table is to text them.” “If you call them they won’t come,” he said. “However, the minute I text them, those kids head for the dinner table.”
We all reminded ourselves that when we were in our twenties our parents were saying the same but different things about us. They would complain about our music, our crazy clothes, and how we mistakenly thought we could save the world. Equally misguided but oh so different from the Millennials. Maybe, we agreed, the difference is the technology. Cathy commented that “we didn’t have iPhones to distract us.” “Yeah” said Wade, “and the world was a lot safer.” Wade remarked “we could run the streets, kids can’t do that today, and to say that they aren’t street smart is the understatement of the year.”
“Now the problem with texting,” said Cathy, “is that the Millennials use it too much.” “They don’t know how to talk. They don’t have social skills like we did.” Oops, now we were acting like the older generation we didn’t like when we were their age. “Isn’t being stuck in your ways a sign of getting old,” suggested Wade. Ok, well maybe. And I admit I don’t know who any of the bands that are nominated for a Grammy.
So my next assignment will be to open the conversation door with Generation X and see what they think of the Millennials. I am not going to ask them what they think of the Boomers.