I started thinking of myself as a member of the Panini Generation in early 2009, writing about my situation for the Chaos Chronicles. The term came to me one day in the shower when I was trying to figure out how I was going to accomplish a To Do list that include eldercare, teen angst, business development, and a sick kid, all in one day. Inspired by the gift of a hot sandwich maker from my older sistes Julie, I declared myself a member of the Panini Generation . My 81- year-old parents relocated to Southern California, near me. My tween and teen son had begun exhibiting the charming behavior that those years are known for, including rebellion, angst, and completetly ignoring all my excellent suggestions. After years of being in the corporate fold, I launched my own media biz out of my house. And I had created a life chock full of soccer, volunteering, and laundry on the side, my fault I admit. I had all the tell-tale symptons of the Sandwich Generation. But, being Gen X and not a Boomer, I like to think of myself as a little bit hotter, hence the Panini Generation moniker. The term resonated with Chaos Chronicles listeners and readers.
On this particular day in February, I was dealing with a sick kid, a bored teen, and an elderly father with a broken wrist and a waiting doctor's appointment. Odds were not looking good for a recording my podcast as the stress was mounting, the clock was ticking, and the rain was
So here was my quick solution to the chaos:
Sick kid: Trusted babysitter came to care for Colin and to administer
ice chips, ginger ale and Tylenol. I could not operate without
excellent childcare and the investment in such pays off on a day like that. Remember that if you are trying to decide if the cost is worth
Bored teen: Did somebody say community service? Yes, I
believe I did. So Brookes went to volunteer at a local pre-K program to
satisfy his community service requirement at school and my need to get
him out of the house.
Injured Elder: I took my dad to the
doctor to follow-up on a broken wrist his suffered. New
doctor, new town. It was a lot to take in for someone who is my dad's
age, I was the driver and the extra set of
ears and eyes at the appointment.
Work: I put in what i could before and after the drivng, dropping off, and instruction giving. It wasn't much, but it was all I could give.
I made it through that day in one hot, gooey piece. Pressed, but not burnt. Since February, there have been many such days when I felt pulled and stretched beyond my comfort zone. Now it's my mom in the hospital with a broken hip, my dad struggling to keep it together at home alone, a new experience for him. Add to that mix, the end-of-school- years demands in terms of academics and activities for my kids. And, it seems that every time I get on a roll with my work, something comes up.
But, we're the Panini Generation. We're connected, controlling and in charge, right? We're the generation that made an artform of multi-tasking. We were early adapters to technology, and we can now Facebook, Twitter and text along with our teens. We bought our parents cell phones, set-up their e-mails, and digitalized the family photo album. We telecommute so we can spend more time at home and when we're at home, we're wired to the rest of the world. And we buy kitchen gadgets to turn a simple grilled cheese sandwich into a panini.
Yet with all the connection, we've discovered that really can't really control our lives. You can buy your parent a cell phone, but that doesn't mean they'll use it when the end up in the hospital. ( Like my parents proved last week!) And you can text your teen all day long, but that doesn't mean they'll listen.
Are you a member of the Panini Generation? What's on your hot plate and how are you managing?
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