1. Grayson, Mary A.

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Every generation eventually cloaks itself in the robes of respectability. For some, it might take longer than others, but we all get there sooner or later.


Take the "talked about to death" Baby Boomers. Generational profilers now describe Boomers as workaholics who really like change. Well, that's better than the "pig in the python" analogy that is currently so popular on the conference speakers' tour. And it is a real step up from how society actually viewed them when they were young. Back then, many Boomers marched proudly under the banner of "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll." Weirdos, freaks and dirty hippies were also popular terms of societal endearment and esteem. My, my. Now we're dedicated workaholics. Who woulda ever guessed?


What about the Greatest Generation? And I couldn't agree more that indeed they were great. But before they triumphed in spirit over the Great Depression, became heroes in World War II, saved us from the fascist Nazis, rebuilt Europe, formed the basis of a varied and strong US economy, and practiced values marked by selflessness and natural generosity, there was bathtub gin and irresponsible behavior involving newfangled motor vehicles. I learned this as a small child by reading an old copy of Look magazine I found in the attic.


One summer night after the dinner dishes were put away, I confronted my mother and father who were sitting unsuspectingly at the kitchen table and asked them point-blank (and I might add, totally out of the blue) if they had ever made bathtub gin?


My mother turned whiter than white, but my father thought it was hilarious. "Well, ya know kid, you really don't need a bathtub, a good pot will do." After which, I was dismissed and I did not bring the subject up again.


Decades later, of course, the ghost of intergenerational payback entered my kitchen in the form of my 11-year-old daughter, Kathy. Some bright-bulb sociology teacher at the middle school decided it would be a great real-life learning experience if the kids studied the 1960s and then went home and talked with their parents about their experiences and memories of the 1960s and early 1970s.


Well, it was one interesting lesson plan that guy put together. Kathy certainly looked at me in a new way as she eagerly fired off a whole list of somewhat "compromising" questions. (I'm sure all over town that night, mothers were dropping their chicken casseroles and stammering the presidential-candidate defense, "Yes, but, but, but, I never inhaled.")


Given the endless cycle of human nature, it's not really surprising that there's intergenerational friction-some may say warfare-between older and younger nurses. I think we should just all get over it. If you're an older nurse: You're probably not as perfect as you think. If you're a younger nurse: You're probably not as special as you might think. None of us are or ever were.


Now, you'll have to excuse me. I have to take my robe of respectability to the dry cleaners. It's acquired a few stains over the years.