“Corduroy is a Millennial,” I complain to my Baby Boomer husband.
He guffaws loudly, my husband, not Corduroy. My dog is too busy head-butting my hands and standing on my computer keyboard in his efforts to get his needs met. He stares at me with his beautiful, dark brown eyes, my dog not my husband, constantly measuring what he can get from me, possibly food or snuggles. If his charm fails to sway my resolve, he falls asleep next to me.
“I love you,” I coo, to my dog, not my husband. I kiss his fur and tell him he is beautiful and perfect.
“You spoil him,” my husband whines. I ignore him, my husband, not my dog, and continue to fawn over my dog.
“He is lovable,” agrees my husband in spite of his envy.
“So he isn’t a Millennial?” I ask hopefully.
“He probably is,” says my husband, kissing the air above my forehead and heading out to work.
I have only myself to blame. Corduroy is my daughter’s dog. She insisted she needed a dog to regulate her moods. My 18 year old, like all human 18 year-olds, has anxiety, and like all Millennial 18 year-olds is fully aware of her anxiety and fully expects a full court press to help her manage this anxiety. A cottage industry helping people manage stress and anxiety has been built in New York City. Every hospital has a department filled with Psychopharmacologists, CBT practitioners, DBT practitioners, old-fashioned social workers, and a variety of support personnel all dedicated to helping people to achieve resilience and functionality in the world.
Corduroy was bought in order to round out the scaffolding, bringing therapeutic puppy love into the crevices of our lives. Never mind that we have two other dogs. “They are not therapeutic,” said my daughter. “Too neurotic,” she added. “You did a lousy job training them. I need to start with a puppy,” she said scrolling through the websites of breeders showing stuffed-animal like cuteness available at the click of a button. Our one-percent Shichon arrived and my daughter, who is disciplined and strict, trained him early and often. Corduroy is not allowed to beg or bark. He is meant to be cuddly and available at all times and he does his job very well.
But still, I worry about his character. He seems totally self-absorbed and obsessed with his comforts.
Like all Millennials, he wants constant reinforcement that he is good at his job. He won’t sleep at the foot of the bed because there is no chance of random petting and kissing. In the morning, he is so sleepy, I have to carry him to the door.
My older dogs, more Generation X types, resent that the newcomer is the favorite and that the house now revolves around him. When Corduroy wants to play, he head-butts the older dogs, insisting it’s play time. He bites them forcefully until they relent. When he is tired, play-time ends until he chooses to start up again.
“You are ruining him,” says my sage daughter, as she makes herself gluten-free, vegan waffles.
“I can’t help it,” I reply, taking a bite of a fresh out-of-the-oven, gluten-free, vegan chocolate-chip cookie. “Now that you three children are grown, I have the time and energy to play with him and pet him endlessly. I can’t stand to see him unhappy. Why shouldn’t he have everything? Licorice and Shugar got the short end of the stick. I ignored them when you were babies. I want Corduroy to always feel valued.”
“Just stop making him a Millennial and stop eating my cookies,” says my daughter, who is awesome but doesn’t like to share her food.
I think through the millennial checklist – Self-absorbed, communal living, shared economy and a low tolerance for delayed gratification. They have been raised with free internet and free music, parental wealth and the longest bull market in decades. They live their lives on a social media stage. Their lives are curated, cultured, observed and published. Every Millennial is an artist, shaping and architecting every moment of their lives. This microscopic attention to their existence has a huge downside. It can create anxiety and hyper-sensitivity. If every moment is precious, the pressure to perform is massive. High anxiety without high tolerance for frustration equals millennial angst. At the very least, it is completely off-putting to all other generations. Like the Baby Boomers who gave birth to them, Millennials demand and take attention, despite whether it is earned and deserved.
Corduroy fits the bill exactly.
But then I think about how much love he creates around him, and I feel my anxiety wane.
“Don’t worry, I won’t,” I say to my daughter. “Besides, he is perfect, even if he is a Millennial.”
Platitude – Spoil the Dog, not the Child
Takeway – Soothing, smoothing, and scaffolding don’t build grit. There is no ‘magic formula,’ no ‘magic bullet’ and no ‘magical thinking’ that replaces toughing it out. And there is no magic age at which children will suddenly be able to take care of themselves if we always do everything for them.
Recipe – Chocolate Bark
I love dark chocolate, but use any chocolate you like.
Chocolate, nuts, dried fruit – use any selection you like
Take half of the chocolate and melt in a glass container in the microwave until just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until it is melted. This is ‘tempering’ and hopefully will prevent the chocolate from becoming cloudy when it hardens. Add the nuts and dried fruit and spread onto wax paper placed on a small tray. Let harden at room temperature or refrigerate until hard.
This will get sticky if left at room temperature, so if you carry ’emergency chocolate’ in your bag like I do, make sure to keep it wrapped.