Dear Grandparenting: My wife and I have just returned home from a trip to Illinois for a big family gathering. Seven of our grandchildren were there. My wife and I were struck by one thing in particular. Nearly all of our grandchildren (we weren’t counting but I think it was six out of the seven) began a sentence with the words “When I am famous….” That’s something I might have said in my youth. But I was kidding and my grandchildren are serious. Part of them really thinks they will grow up to become famous! Imagine that! Preparing for fame before you hit puberty!
My wife and I are puzzled about what’s going on. What on earth would lead children from four different families to believe that it is their destiny to become a household name? My wife and I played along at the time. We didn’t feel it was the right time or place to straighten our grandchildren out about this foolishness. This fame thing could be something sweeping the nation. If everyone wants to be famous, 99.99 percent are in for a big fall. Fame for fame’s sake is a phony value. What happened to a good old good job? Please tell me this is all a bad dream that my grandkids will snap out of. Double J, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania
Dear Double J: Thanks to the Internet, fame on the quick and cheap is pretty obtainable today, mere child’s play. Maybe not the sort of fame grandparents might envision, but fame nonetheless — at least for the next couple of hours until the novelty wears off.
Digital platforms like Facebook and YouTube function as public bulletin boards where grandchildren say whatever they wish using words, photos and videos. It’s an updated version of “show and tell” for adolescents and teens, and what they most want to talk about is themselves of course. What could possibly be more fascinating?
Today’s younger grandchildren are the first generation to come of age in this see-me, click-me culture, where their lives can become an open book. While grandparents think of fame in terms of achievement, grandchildren can manufacture something in 10 minutes that elicits digital comment or controversy.
It is human nature to strive to distinguish oneself, say psychologists. The allure of fame and celebrity attracts older grandchildren too. In a 2006 Pew research survey, more than half of 18 to 25-year olds said being famous was their generation’s first or second life goal. Looks like we’re well on the way to fulfilling Andy Warhol’s 1966 prediction that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. We foresee one problem: When we’re all famous, then nobody is truly famous, including the semi-famous who aspire to become really famous.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Bud Williams from Kingsport, Tennessee, weighed in to say that “being a good grandparent means being a little bit parent, a little bit teacher and a little bit best friend.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.