Thursday, July 07, 2005

Don't Go Quite So Hard On Twixters, Part One

Much has been made recently of the Twixters, the band of twenty- and early thirtysomethings who flit through life, shuttling between jobs, homes, and relationships, never settling down, never embracing adulthood. There is much good in the call that has gone up to the Twixter generation to leave the trappings of youth. I've noticed, though, that in the conversation, a crucial factor fueling the Twixter's transience has often gone overlooked: the parents who helped shape the Twixters. Why are they so important?

Everybody knows the story of the Baby Boomers. They were the last American generation raised in a decidedly Judeo-Christian framework, the first to abandon it in their early adulthood, and have since dedicated themselves to raising super-successful, super-happy children, all in the context of self-interested, materialistically-driven postmodernity. Or, at the very least, the affluent boomers have followed this pattern. In seeking the above end, they enrolled the kids in elite preschools, elite grammar schools, elite junior high schools, and elite high schools, all so that the child could get in (early decision, natch) at an elite postsecondary institution. Along that blistering journey came voice lessons, violin lessons, private soccer tutoring, algebra tutoring, Latin lessons, Sunday school for character rounding-out, cultural experiences abroad, acting, and of course, intense monitoring of academic performance, replete with numerous--and huffy--visits to various unsuspecting teachers. Obscured in this process is the child, the future Twixter. As one thinks it over, one can almost see little Twixter's spirit beginning to recoil against the hyper-involved childhood handed to him with nary a voluntary choice in the matter.

For the future-Twixters who did get into good schools, a strange pattern of excess and duress developed. He played hard, for sure, indulging himself in the pleasures of college, but also undertook a pre-med or pre-law or pre-CEO curriculum. Thus, even as he projected an air of Epicureanism, he had his parent's drive to succeed spurring him on at all times, fixed in his conscience like an implanted computer chip in the mind of an unsuspecting cinematic character. This pattern continued until graduation, when it all collapsed. No longer supported by Ma and Pa, he tasted freedom for the first time. No lessons, no assignments, no counseling sessions. It was all gone. Though the absence of productive activity unnerved him a bit, he embraced it, and now you see him in various American locales, flitting here and there, a piece of driftwood happy to be free from the ship of achievement only recently wrecked on the rocks of graduation.


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