Sunday, May 08, 2011

Full of snark

Once I became a supervisor at my office several years ago, I had to learn how to manage people with different points of view, most of whom are older than me. Admittedly I lost a 25+ year employee, part of the "traditionalist" generation, once I became her boss in part because I did not communicate with her in the way she wanted (She worked off site. I relied on email, and she would have preferred phone calls).

The Happy Hocky Family, by Lane Smith. Written in 1996 - coincidence? It just doesn't get any snarkier than this.

After this event, I am mildly obsessed with understanding the differences between workers from the four different generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials) working in our office. Here is a good synopsis of what each generation represents. For our office family, these are some of our general working principles -- The traditionalists are going to demand respect from those around them, but cannot self-assess when their own behavior is disrespectful. Our Baby Boomers love having access to new technology, but you'd also better give them the phone number to the computer help center. Our Gen-Xers will want to debate the necessity of every new assignment, need productive assignments (no busy work), and don't want to be micromanaged. Our Millennials seem like they are farting around all day with texting, email, etc., but if you give them proper guidance and space, they will produce great things.

Bagel's Lucky Hat, by Hector Mumbly. It's more the illustrations than the text that give this one its edge. It's ok for kids to be a little creeped out -- right?

At work, I have become neutral by necessity. In my personal life, I am a typical Gen-Xer. Stereotypical, I would say. I bawled walking through the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center, which chronicles the Challenger disaster, and feel this event gave me (if not our generation) my "why bother - everything is going to turn out crap" attitude. I feel deeply moved by the lyrics of 90s grunge bands. And, I am well versed in sarcasm, snark, and wit.

Who Needs Donuts?, by Alan Stamaty. The young ones will be looking for donuts on each page, and the parents will be discussing what kind of drugs the artist was on when he designed human-pigeon hybrids and drew hundreds of thousands of donuts in a warehouse, and how not Kosher many parents would be reading a book with a kid that wanders away from home AND befriends a creepy donut collecting weird-o long after the kids have gone to sleep.

My son will be part of his own generation, and doesn't need the baggage of mine. I try to put on a happy face and express optimism first when we are working through an issue (what a novel idea!) His music play list is more on the adult side, admittedly, but it has not felt appropriate to infuse his collection with any songs from Nirvana, Pearl Jam, or Alice in Chains (maybe when he is in high school we will introduce him to "real" music). I don't know what he picks up from my husband and I when we are bantering, though these exchanges are probably something we should try to curtail as Hank gets older lest he become a verbal fencer like his parents (side note: sarcasm does not seem to go over well with the younger generations).

Little Fur Family, by Margaret Wise Brown. Many MWB books seem a little bit off. Recall the page in Goodnight Moon that says Goodnight, nobody -- what's up with that?? Little Fur Family is also a little unsettling, perhaps because they look like bears, but apparently are not, plus the fur baby chases a mini version of himself around. Trippy.

Although we don't infuse the kid with Gen-X culture (oh, just a few reproduction toys, and some nostalgic movies and TV shows), we do appreciate when we come across a book that is a little edgy, and is entertaining for the adult reading it as well. Here are a few books that are in heavy rotation at our house, showing their appeal to both old(ish) and young. If you have them or end up checking them out from your local library, let me know what you think!


Favorite of the day: Next party we go to, this is what the birthday boy/girl is receiving!

Working on: Lists and worrying

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