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  • Writer's pictureJeni Kelsch

Fear Not-I am an Expert

Updated: Jul 10, 2018

I am a product of the 1970s. To my kids that means I’m old, and as an old person, my ideas and experiences are also old and can be written off as uninformed, no longer relevant, or just annoying. But the 70s were a particularly weird point in history, being raised by ex-hippies in the 1980's Yuppie culture created a kind of cultural fraction in my brain that has left me uniquely scarred and unable to tell what fashion really is or how to apply it. On top of that, my generation was the first experimental education generation, and since we moved a lot, I think I was exposed to every “new” the Department of Education could invent and abandon for the next new Best Idea Ever.

My first-grade class was the first “bussed in” class in my school. That meant we got to meet lots of new kids from all over town and could never have a friend cause we all lived too far away. My second grade was an experiment in classrooms without walls. That meant I could see and hear the teachers teaching third and fourth grade at the same time as our teacher, but none of us could understand a thing. My third grade was the new social experiment of group teaching, we were actually a combined class of third and fourth graders, which was great, except that meant I already learned fourth grade material before fourth grade, which rendered fourth grade a little boring. Fifth grade took place in a failing school that closed the next year, that place was fun. We once had recess for four hours. Sixth grade I have completely blocked out of my memory, that probably is bad. Seventh was spent in an inner-city school and in that year, I stopped opening books. It just wasn’t necessary. High school continued the pattern of new and different, but by then I had decided school was where you were sent by law to sleep. After all those schools and all those experiments, I came away with one overarching thought, The Experts know nothing.

So, when I became old, which seems to have coincided with my firstborn becoming a teenager, I was not surprised to be informed by him that I didn’t know what I was talking about, ever. All those years of experimental school and exposure to the experts’ latest ideas had finally caught up to me. If only I could spell or do simple math I am sure I could refute my son’s arguments, but alas, I am ill-equipped. The only thing I have managed to teach all my children with certainty, is that the experts know nothing, and I am An Expert.

My expertise, backed by years of experience and very little book reading, is wrong, it’s counter cultural, counter modern coolness. When I insist my daughter pull her hair back at her first ever job as a cashier at the grocery store so it doesn’t actually drop into the bags she fills with other people’s food, she scorns my advice as dated, and flounces out to bag hair and groceries all day long. Foolish old women like me be damned. My recent suggestion to my son that perhaps he may not want to plan his life around what car he is going to buy next but instead seek human companionship was laughed at. He said that is what people without cool cars think. Alas, I fear I have lost them to the one lesson I managed to teach, but I don’t let it get to me. Someday my children will have children, and the pupil will become the master, dare I say - the expert.

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