I’m a bit concerned about both my children (three) and my grandchildren (one arrived, the others mere thoughts at this writing). I am aware that, depending on which standard is used, my children are either Gen Xers or Gen Yers. Or both. This in itself is a problem. If my children are Gen Xers, they are sandwiched between 80 million baby boomers and 78 million Millennials (or Generation Yers). They are roughly defined as anyone born between 1965 and 1980. The group has just 46 million members, making it a dark-horse demographic “condemned by numbers alone to Nicheville.” (The preceding was an actual quote I found, by an actual human person.)
From another source: “Generation X came of age in an era of two-income families, rising divorce rates and a faltering economy. Women were joining the workforce in large numbers, spawning an age of ‘latch-key’ children…” At this point in my reading, I was seriously regretting the January 1980 skiing trip my ex and I made, in which, a thousand miles away from my four year old and five year old, I asked in a euphoric haze of happily abandoned maternal responsibility, “Should we go for a third?” and my ex, in his own state of post-double diamond euphoria, answered, “Sure.” The result was my youngest, born eights plus months later (He was two and a half weeks early). Had I waited just a few months before asking the Big Question, my youngest would have escaped the Gen X category and, instead, would have been considered a :
Gen Y. Gen Y does, indeed, escape the perils of Gen X, and is described as “young, smart, rash,” “cares about saving the planet,” “family oriented.” It goes on and on. No superlative is too good for Gen Yers. Every characteristic is way better than being a citizen of Nicheville. But with more research, I found a very wide range of ages given for Gen Y. Wikipedia identifies Gen Yers as being born from the mid-1970s. Now things really get interesting. If I accept this, my three children are members of both Gen X and Gen Y, resulting in a multiple personality disorder which, as far as I know, has yet to be named. If we can name it, my kids might be eligible for government subsidies. At the very least, my youngest, at age 29, neatly fits into both categories.
But all this is peanuts compared to the Huge Problem looming ahead. This is what affects my grandchildren: We are seriously running out of letters. After Gen Y, of course, comes Gen Z. After that, no letters. No characteristics. No nothing. Talk about Nicheville. This is Nowhereville. My grandchildren will be in a kind of characteristic-free limbo. They won’t know if they are responsible or not. Creative or not. Out saving the planet or not.
I’m wondering why the person who originally coined the phrase Gen X didn’t think of this. It’s sort of like tuning into your favorite TV show (like for example Lost or Glee or Kendra) and discovering that the network decided to start it 50 minutes into it. There would be a national outcry for sure. So why isn’t there a national outcry now? I’m suggesting that brand new grandparents and future grandparents unite to assure that our grandchildren are covered by some kind of clear designation. I’m not sure what that would be, since I’m thinking that creating new letters of the alphabet at this point in time might be a bit difficult. But I’m prepared to march or call my congressman or put some kind of sign on my lawn. I’m just waiting for the groundswell.