Thursday, August 24, 2006

Growing up in Berkeley in the 60's

Only when I went away to college in Santa Barbara did I realize that being the child of hippie parents in Berkeley in the 60's was out of the ordinary. Not all 6th graders spent their spare time with friends playing Mozart flute quartets; not all cities virtually shut down on the last Friday of the month in observance of the War Moratorium; not all families got a call requesting that their 17-year-old (my older brother) be picked up from the Santa Rita Detention Center after being arrested for taking part in the creation of People's Park. And not all mothers were professors at the university considered Ground Zero of the Civil Rights movement, conducting "office hours" at radical Cody's Books on University Avenue.

It was a unique childhood indeed -- and what did I do to show my appreciation? I became the "white sheep of the family," rebeling in the only way I could: I became a cheerleader and joined Young Life, prompting my parents to ask where they went wrong. I probably would have even joined the Republican Party, had I been old enough at that point, just to rebel as fully and as dramatically as I possibly could! My friends' parents wanted their kids to be just like me -- straight as an arrow, never touching drugs, self-monitoring and responsible... and I wanted my parents to be just like my friends' parents -- classically and sophisticately dressed, Republican (of course), and definitely NOT prone to smoking weed in the hot tub after dinner! Oh -- and I wanted my parents to pleeeease lose their German accents! How horrifyingly embarrassing! (And yet, when Steven Forscutt called me a Nazi in 3rd grade because my parents were German, I was embarrassed only, not hurt or enraged... Why couldn't my dad be an American war vet instead of a German concentration camp survivor?)

And now, years later, I embrace my unique childhood with all the passion I can muster. I have long since outgrown the propensity to be embarrassed by my parents and instead I fully appreciate their openness and individuality. Needless to say, I outgrew any desire to be a Republican -- and even have a 16-year-old kid who, I am proud to say, is destined to someday be the most radically liberal politician in Washington State... even if it's just at his high school. He makes my parents (rest my mom's soul), and my still-hippie-People's-Park-brother, proud... and would appropriately mortify my high school friends' parents!

And now that I'm approaching 50, I just hope to be able to watch my yet-to-be-born grandchildren in THEIR teens. What will THEIR parents do to mortify THEM?

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1 comment:

Pam said...

Seems every generation has 'embarrassing parents'!
I enjoyed this post : )

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