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Generation overbabied? What our (fab!) interns have taught us

 
One of the things I am most proud of is how many interns we have had at GL. We’ve easily employed around 1,000 girls, from the middle-schoolers who shadow us for a day to the high school seniors who spend an entire semester with us (yes, there are tears when they leave—and not just because suddenly there’s no one bringing us brownies and lattes).

 

While I would love to offer insightful personal anecdotes for each intern, I can’t. I’m happy if I can just remember their names. (I used to rag on my dad for calling me the name of one of my five brothers and sisters, but I get it now. That said, I still reserve the right to shamelessly guilt him for once calling me the dog’s name.)

 

There is one intern who sticks out in my mind, though. At the start, Sarah was most notable to me because she had the most amazingly bouncy, perfect hair I’d ever seen on anyone outside of Blake Lively (who, I am here to tell you first-hand, has the flaxen locks of a goddess). She also dressed cutely, was really nice and always did her best, though I couldn’t help but notice she was never really one of those looking to make her mark. She was, as they say, just happy to be here.

 

So me being me and thinking everyone wants to move up the ladder, I chose Sarah over one of the eager brownie-bearing beavers for a project. It went OK up to the part where we had to send it out and I asked Sarah to grab a shipping box.

 

Her: “I don’t know how to do that.” I thought she meant she didn’t know where to find boxes, so I pointed to where we store the office supplies. Her: “No, I mean I don’t know how to do that.” Me: “Do what? Pop together a box?” Her: “Yeah, I don’t know how to do that.” Me: “You push it up. You tape it. That’s it.” Her: “Yeah, no, my mom does stuff like that for me.”

 

While part of me wanted to patiently show her how to make a box, really I just wanted to blurt out, “Dude, for real?!” In the end, I just sort of sat and blinked. Standing there before me was a high school senior who didn’t know how to make a box because her mom didn’t think she’d ever need a box.

 

Sadly, there are a ton of Sarahs out there. I know this because she was hardly the last one through my doors with little to zero real-world experience. While everyone has to do something for the first time at some point (how do you learn otherwise?), I’ve never seen as many girls get overbabied by their parents as I do now. The results of these good intentions? Girls leave the nest knowing how to do exactly zip.

 

And I’m not talking about it-will-come-in-handy-four-times-in-your-life stuff like how to use jumper cables without blowing up the car. I am talking about things like laundry. Or cooking. Or, in the case of one of my interns, how to mail something.

 

I get it—it’s nice to have your mom do the boring or tough things in life for you. But learning how to take care of yourself gives you a sense of confidence that the world isn’t such a scary place. That you can handle the little (and big) challenges life will inevitably throw your way.

 

Remember: One day you’ll move out of your parents’ house and strike out on your own. And for that, you’ll need a box.

 

<3 KB
 
 

BY KAREN THE EDITOR ON 11/20/2011 12:00:00 AM

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