"If I had a superpower, it would be to be able to fill things whenever I want. Like, to fill people's refrigerators or water tanks or bank accounts or whatever. Just fill things."
In 2000, William Strauss and Neil Howe released the first book devoted to this generation, titled Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. Defined as anyone born between 1982 and 2004, it's something I never realized I had in common with my fifteen-year-old daughter—we're both tail-enders, she being born in 2000 and I with about a minute to go in the fourth quarter of the Baby Boom.
According to Wikipedia, academic opinions vary on the Millennial mindset—anywhere from civic minded and tolerant to narcissistic and entitled (Just between you and me, that's a check-check-check-check for my kid, plus a few more).
She and I talk about lots of things, but always in small, concentrated blocks, and usually sandwiched around dinner. The remainder of her time she spends either in her room or with friends. In a few short months she'll have her driver's license and be ever scarcer around these digs.
Over the years, I've enjoyed interviewing people, especially my kids. Inevitably, a nugget will surface that I hadn't anticipated, a view of the world I hadn't known or appreciated. Well, it's been a while, six years in fact. since I got her feedback down in pixels, so I thought I'd check back in.
I sat down with my daughter on a recent Wednesday evening, following a nearly-satisfying dinner of Costco Asian chicken salad and a zealous negotiation culminating in the eight-dollar interview fee. Clad in her post-shower garb of t-shirt, sweats and fuzzy socks, she reclined on the couch two cushions down as I opened my notebook.
How do you feel when you hear an adult say something like, "Oh, she's just a teenager. You know how they can be. Their brains are completely offline, raging with hormones and they're incapable of perceiving consequences?
Honestly? It pisses me off. It's totally degrading to us, calling what we say and think invalid.
Interesting. What about the consequences part?
Adults like to put kids into stereotypes: these kids go here, those kids go there. I'm not this person or that person.
Knowing what you do now, what advice would your almost-sixteen-year-old self have for the nine-year-old I talked to six years ago?
Oh, Geez. Um, even though you don't have any friends now, you're going to have friends who are really cool. Everything turns out a lot better for you. And... try to like your sister more.
That makes me sad.
You can't do that. You're supposed to be the interviewer.
Right. So I have to ask—is dating something you're interested in right now?
Not really. I don't want to talk about this stuff. I don't want this stuff on your blog.
Fair enough. How do you visualize yourself as an adult? In other words, at what age do you imagine your established adult self? In your 20s? 30s?
I picture myself around 30. I've got a really good job and I'm hella rich. I've probably been married for five years already and have one kid. I'll have another one later.
What's this job you've got that makes you hella rich?
No idea. I'd really like something to do with marketing. I'm good at pretending to have confidence when I really don't. I guess I'm really good at bullshitting.
Yes, it is a very special skill. Good luck with that. Okay, so just to get a better idea about your attitudes, we're going to play a game called "You can only have one." First off, you can only have one: Eating lunch in the school cafeteria every day for six months with just your parents, or not talking to your friends for six months?
Really? Oh. .. I'm going to go with sitting with my parents. Oh, my God, I can't believe I said that. But losing all my friends for six months? I can't even imagine... oh, that would be so bad. Yes, parents.
Um, I don't think you should feel good about that.
Okay, one more. You can either give up bread forever or lose all your friends and have to start from scratch.
I guess it has to be bread. I do love bread though... that's okay. There's a lot of people out there who are gluten free.
Who do you like for president?
I'm feeling the Bern. He stands for everything I like.
What about Hillary?
I think she has made several mistakes. I saw something on Twitter from the 60s or 70s and she said some racist and anti-gay stuff. I don't know if it's true, but I do trust Twitter.
Are you serious? You trust Twitter?
How do you feel about Mr. Trump?
Oh, my God. I don't want to waste the energy I have on him. He's the exact definition of a joke.
Along those lines, what qualities do you admire in a person?
Let's see... honesty, loyalty and... having a good sense of humor. Yes, all three.
Do you see those traits in yourself?
Yes, I do.
Okay, last question: who's your favorite guy over 50?
I guess... my dad?
And with that, she stood and dropped the pillow onto the cushion and walked away, "I'm going to go chill and watch some Gossip Girl. Oh, and don't forget," she yelled just as her bedroom door closed behind her, "you owe me eight dollars."
Hey, no problem. She won't let me forget.