But there are two habits of theirs that drive me crazy.
B's son comes over for dinner once every two weeks or so, depending on his schedule. It's good to see him, and it's nice that he still feels a connection strong enough with his mother that he makes the effort, even though he has a job, a girlfriend, his own friends and activities, his own apartment.
But here's the thing. We're getting ready for dinner. B's preparing the food. I'm setting the table. And B's son sits at the table, completely ignoring us, tip tapping into his smart phone.
We sit down for dinner. B asks a few questions of her son, who smiles and relates what he's been doing for the week, maybe a problem at work, or some friends he's seeing. And the conversation continues apace, until suddenly I notice that B and I talking together while her son is sitting there, looking down below the table, and again he's typing into his phone.
His mother asks him politely to put his phone away, and he does, and the conversation goes on, until B and I are talking to each other again, and her son is back at his phone.
Then he'll look up. "Oh, I have to go." He needs to meet someone, and get on the road for his next activity . . . having never really fully engaged in this current activity.
I don't mean to pick on B's son. All the 20-somethings do it -- they give you half their attention, while the other half is focused on their phone or tablet, and some other conversation, some other activity, some other circle of friends.
My sister was in town last week, and we went to a wine bar to listen to some live music. At one point I noticed that the singer was blasting away on his guitar, singing his heart out about a love gone bad, and half the audience was aglow in the reflected light of their cellphones -- giving the band just half their attention.
So that's one thumb down. What's the other? A related issue.
I'm supposed to pick up my daughter at the train. She's moving and is coming out to the house to leave some of the stuff from her old apartment in our basement. That's fine. The problem is that I can't pin her down as to when she's actually coming. First it was Wednesday night. Then she emailed me that she couldn't make it. She'd come Friday instead, sometime after she woke up; it wouldn't be too early because she'd be out late, but she'd call me from the train.
Okay, I emailed back, but how about calling me when she woke up so she could give me a couple of hours notice, instead of a few minutes, so I could plan my day. I didn't want to have to sit around all afternoon waiting for her.
So Friday comes. No call by 11 a.m. No call by 1 p.m. No call by 3 p.m. I had a repairman coming over to the house around 5 or 5:30, and I needed to be here to talk to him. I started worrying that I'd be out picking up my daughter at 5 p.m. So, finally, I call her. Of course, she doesn't answer. No 20-something answers their cellphone. I leave a message. Please get on the train by 4 p.m., so I can pick you up and get back to the house by 5 p.m.
Finally, she calls back. She's on the train. She'll be here by 4:45. I rush over to the station, I'm back for the repairman, and we all have dinner together.
But why can't a 20-something make a plan and stick to it? If everything is fluid, everything changeable, everything subject to last-minute updates via text message or facebook, then nobody else can make a plan for their day . . . they have to sit around and wait for you.
Again, I don't mean to pick on my daughter. All the 20-somethings do it. They skip from place to place, always connected by phone, never making plans, just jumping from one activity to another. (According to the recent Time magazine story on Millennials, 70 percent of 20-somethings check their cellphones hourly, "interacting all day long by taking 'selfie' photos and seeking constant approval -- 'Someone liked my status update!'")
Oh, I guess I do have one more thumb down. Kids! When we call you, answer the damn phone!
In the meantime, say what you want about Paul Lynde (1926 - 1982) -- but the guy could be pretty hilarious, especially when talking about kids.