My Generation Z Daughter: 20 subtle differences.


My baby girl just turned 6 and for about 25 seconds I thought back to when I was her age (I'm not one to dwell). I was stirred to reflect on what life was like for me as a Generation X not-particularly-privileged-but-definitely-living-in-the-developed-world kid in the ‘olden days’ (her term but can I deny it?). She does loads of the cool childhood stuff that I used to do; collect rocks, climb trees, make cubby houses, put on puppet shows, read books, chase waves, find shapes in the clouds, make concoctions, play with the neighbour’s kids, nurture random animals/insects/soft toys, spend hours making up imaginary games, dig, skip, play, draw, laugh, cry, learn etc etc. But she doesn’t know who Mork and Mindy are. Or how to rewind a cassette tape with a pencil. And she thinks jumping up and down and smacking your own arse is dancing. They are subtle differences but still.

She may be just like I was but she is undeniably Generation Z and here is 20 ways I can tell:

1. She swipes most shiny glassy surface she sees, it is all touchscreen to her. I am waiting for the day she does a two finger scroll on the window to change the view.

2. There is nothing she cannot find out. No question remains unanswered. There is no need to ‘phone a friend’, check all the blue Geography answers on Trivial Pursuit cards, or heave through the gold edged pages of the World Book Encyclopedia. You just ‘Google it’ and she knows it.

Before there was Google...

Before there was Google...

3. She thinks choosing from 224 different types of milk is completely normal.

4. She says ‘Can I see it?’ as soon as her photo is taken and ‘Can we Facetime them?’ when she is missing her cousins.

5. She can’t tie up shoelaces.

6. Her toothbrush vibrates.

7. ‘BFF’ and ‘Whateverrrrrr’ and are part of her vernacular (insert mum-groan here), and ‘being famous’ is an acceptable career goal (thankfully not hers…yet).

8. She thinks all birthday parties have a theme. And that every wrapper in pass-the-parcel gets a prize.

9. She doesn’t get to go bike riding to the park by herself, or with a gang of friends, ‘til dinnertime’. It is a crying shame that, all the things I could get done. Damn abductors.

10. She rarely sees anyone actually smoking a cigarette and when she does, she whispers loudly ‘that’s bad for your lungs’ (and we swiftly exit the bikie clubhouse).

11. She is allowed to say penis and vagina.

12. She is not allowed to be babysat by the 8 year old kid from down the road.

13. She knows: If it’s cold; microwave it, if the battery runs out; recharge it, if you miss it; rewind it and if you need to wee; pause it.

14. She assumes girls can grow up to be doctors, dentists, vets, police officers, writers, psychologists and Prime Ministers.

15. Her dress up box is not just a pile of randomly shaped bits of material, 3 whacky hats and an old pair of high heels.

16. She knows what recycling is, how to do it and why.

17. Her hair styling doll came with a straightening iron.

18. She gets a (participation) certificate even if she comes last.

19. She has seen potatoes in many forms beside mash.

Potato in its jacket? Fancy!

Potato in its jacket? Fancy!

20. She has never been sunburnt. Or smacked. Or driven home late at night lying along the back seat of the car, without a seatbelt, by a very responsible but well boozy parent.

Even though we try to make sure she has a balanced, grounded and simple life, some of my daughter's Gen Z behaviour makes me cringe, or 'worry about today's indulged youth'. Then I think back to how my mum must have felt watching my Gen X behaviour - like when I learnt to work the remote control for the TV, or tried to be like Olivia Newton-John in Grease (You'd better shape up, cos I need a maaaaaaan), or said something was filth. She probably thought my beloved Baby Alive doll was an outrageously indulgent toy and couldn't believe I had a green bike with spokey dokeys and a banana seat. So my baby girl, I say bring on your crazy Gen Z future…or not. Whateverrrrrrr.

The Beyonce of the olden days.

The Beyonce of the olden days.