The Boomerang Generation, The Lumineers and “Sleep On The Floor”

I hate if a week goes by when I don’t post anything new, but here we are a full 10 days since my last offering. No earworms this week and no tributes to write (thankfully), but feeling a bit hampered by the fact I recently announced that I would no longer embarrass myself by writing about my personal life or have long rants about what I perceive as injustices in the world. In the comments boxes however it was decided that such writing is acceptable as it can be therapeutic and “gets issues out there for discussion”, but perhaps not posts to leave in the archive long-term.

So, what’s coming I hear you ask? – Well it’s been a bit of an odd week. I have written quite a bit of late about finding myself the squeezed filling in a sandwich. Much of my week is taken up providing all sorts of support to both the generation above, and the generation below within my family. Turns out that the focus this week has been on the generation below. Yes, according to darling daughter, a few days ago we committed the most heinous of all crimes, “we embarrassed her in front of her boyfriend”, and there is now apparently no going back to how it used to be!

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A tenancy agreement has been drawn up (by DD) outlining her “rights” in return for the (peppercorn) rent she pays us and in response we have drawn up a document outlining her responsibilities as a good tenant. So far we’ve not had to actually fork out for legal counsel but it’s looking awfully like a possibility, as down the line there may be lawsuits and countersuits for minor misdemeanours. Shame all of this has happened just before Mother’s Day as I am now highly sceptical whether I’ll even get a card, let alone some nice flowers or chocolates!

Much of this is written in jest of course as although relations are indeed frosty (but not as bad as those between the UK and Russia at the moment), still a lot of love there, it’s just that once your offspring reach adulthood and leave home they don’t always want to return to the confines of their old school bedroom, but sometimes they have to (coined the Boomerang Generation). Not easy nowadays when the only options are to: (1) pay a ludicrous amount of rent for a room in a shared flat; (2) save a whopping amount of cash for a deposit in order to obtain a mortgage; (3) put your name on a housing association list, knowing full well that you will never reach the top of that list. Yes, it’s all gone horribly wrong in our country hasn’t it. When did houses stop being homes and how is it going to change going forward?

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As I have mentioned in a previous post, the 5th largest bank in the UK is the Bank of Mum and Dad so that is an option for some of the more affluent families out there. That option is just not available however for the less affluent, who despite often working in highly worthy and vitally important professions, perhaps just don’t command the kind of salaries afforded to those in other jobs (some of which often seen as less worthy – Just sayin’).

But hey, there is always the rental market isn’t there? But no, even here in the North of Scotland, it seems that renting a room in a private flat would cost half the average youngster’s monthly salary. With bills and living expenses on top of that, not much cash left for anything else and although Mr WIAA and I are happy to lead a simple existence filling our free time with blogging, boxsets, music and walking, I wouldn’t want to see DD miss out on all the things she wants to do throughout her 20s. Indeed here is a paragraph from her tenancy agreement which relates to something I hadn’t heard of before but it seems to be a thing. She apparently should have the ability and freedom to serve her 20s in a “Butterfly” capacity, defined as such: Your 20s are your selfish years. Its a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible, to be selfish with your time and all aspects of you. Tinker with things, spend nights away, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little and never touch the ground. (And there I was mundanely asking her to tidy her room and tell us what time she was going to be back – Oops)

Here is a song she shared with me last year by The Lumineers – It had really resonated with her as there seems to be a real desire amongst young people at the moment to acquire a quirky vehicle of some kind and go travelling. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. If you can’t join ’em, make ’em jealous. In the video clip it shows what can happen if you take a chance and “leave this town” – I give you Sleep On The Floor from their 2016 album Cleopatra.

Sleep On The Floor by The Lumineers:

For more mature adults with stressful jobs, long commutes, big mortgages and kids to bring up, the Butterfly Years must now seem like a distant memory but I did indeed experience them myself (away from the family home) so I would like to see her do the same in due course. In the short-term I think we will just have to learn how to co-exist in a slightly more fluid and less-interfering manner, which is not easy for me, but I’ll try.

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So, “What’s It All About?” – Just a mini rant this time, about housing. I would love to offer up solutions but as ever there is a balance and if a policy change comes about that benefits the young, too many older people feel aggrieved and change allegiance to another political party come the next election. Surely as should happen with Health/The NHS, there also needs to be All Party Parliamentary Groups dedicated to long-term policy for Housing.

Looking around me there seems to be far too many people of my generation buying up all the starter flats on a buy-to-let basis, but then they would argue that because interest rates are so low, it is needed for retirement income. How much retirement income is enough though – Do you really need three or four flats? Wouldn’t one be enough. Also are planning rules really too restrictive or do building companies deliberately hold back on new builds to keep profits high? As for London, it’s beyond bonkers down there. It’s a difficult one, but time is running out for these youngsters and if we’re not careful they’ll all take off in their VW Campervans, to Sleep On The Floor. They want to experience their Butterfly Years but just one question, who’s going to be left to run our vital services and industries once they all go?

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One last thing before I go – I was lucky enough to grow up in a lovely stone-built house with a big garden full of flowers, vegetables and soft fruit. We had great neighbours and all took a real pride in our community. Yes, like about half the people I grew up with, we lived in houses provided for rent by the County Council (as it was called then). Sadly these houses of my youth have all been sold off at a vast discount and the only council-provided housing nowadays seems to be called Social Housing which to me just conjures up negative terms like Social Services, Social Problems, Social Security, so can we please change that nomenclature? Time for a massive sea-change but, “Where is the money?” they always ask. Well here’s an idea – Now that Donald Trump seems to palling-up with Kim Jong-un, the world looks as if it might be a safer place in the future. How about we trade-in a few nuclear missiles for a million new homes (not houses) to rent from our local Councils? Makes sense to me.

In the meantime, I’m off to check the tenancy agreement in case I’ve missed anything vital – I don’t think providing a late-night taxi service is included in this new document but before I pour that glass of wine, I had better check!

As ever, I’d love to hear from you, and I always reply.

Sleep On The Floor Lyrics
(Song by Jeremiah Fraites/Wesley Schultz)

Pack yourself a toothbrush dear
Pack yourself a favourite blouse
Take a withdrawal slip
Take all of your savings out
‘Cause if we don’t leave this town
We might never make it out
I was not born to drown
Baby come on

Forget what Father Brennan said
We were not born in sin
Leave a note on your bed
Let your mother know you’re safe
And by the time she wakes
We’ll have driven through the state
We’ll have driven through the night
Baby come on

If the sun don’t shine on me today
And if the subways flood and bridges break
Will you lay yourself down and dig your grave
Or will you rail against your dying day

And when we looked outside
Couldn’t even see the sky
How do you pay the rent
Is it your parents
Or is hard work dear
Holding the atmosphere
I don’t wanna live like that, yeah

If the sun don’t shine on me today
If the subways flood and bridges break

Jesus Christ can’t save me tonight
Put on your dress, yes wear something nice
Decide on me, yea decide on us
Oh, oh, oh, Illinois, Illinois

Pack yourself a toothbrush dear
Pack yourself a favourite blouse
Take a withdrawal slip
Take all of your savings out
‘Cause if we don’t leave this town
We might never make it out

Postscript:

Just an update to this post – Yes, I did receive a card, flowers and chocolates for Mother’s Day plus I had a lovely lunch cooked for me by DD. I have also now seen the error of my ways in continuing to treat her like the schoolgirl she was 4 years ago. Those days have gone so the tenancy agreement was a great way of making us realise that. These months back at home have freed up a lot of cash that would otherwise have gone on overpriced rent – Having cash in the bank leads to opportunities, rather than just treading water, so happy to oblige. (Just one thing, I’ve got to learn not to criticise how she does her laundry – Mixing whites and coloureds? Sacré bleu.)

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

20 thoughts on “The Boomerang Generation, The Lumineers and “Sleep On The Floor””

  1. Ah, Alyson… You know how to cheer us all up on a Saturday night. (Basically, we’re all screwed, aren’t we?) I feel your pain. It’s hard enough at the moment dealing with a bolshie 4 year old… God knows what he’ll be like when he’s 24.

    As for the Butterfly Years… I can only express envy. Most of my 20s were spent as a caterpillar.

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    1. No we’re not really screwed as things change and they are going to have to change pretty soon or else we’ll have a generation of 40-year-olds still living at home. I live in hope. As for your 4-year-old, he’s male, so is likely to cause far less upset down the line! Not sure if heading off in a VW Campervan will still be the “in thing” when he gets to that stage either.

      Yes, these Butterfly Years – They sound fun if you can get them but I am aware they are a pipe dream for many. A bit like that “hierarchy of needs” pyramid, where the really great stuff can only happen if all the other needs are taken care of first. The tenancy agreement has been a jolt though – This parenting malarkey is a tough gig at times.

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    1. Yes – a new term for me too but what young people aspire to nowadays – Considering they’ve been pretty much shafted by the older generation (not deliberately of course but how it’s worked out), why not!

      Thanks for dropping by.

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  2. Great post Alyson, it’s good to talk! I’d never heard of the Butterfly Years either. I know it’s what we’d all like in an ideal world but I can’t imagine it’s possible for many now. Mind you I spent my twenties working and saving and living in awful crummy rented flats, but we still got to go out a fair bit, just to gigs and record fairs and the like. Nothing big or dreamy, no travelling the world, that was just fantasy. So, to be honest, there’s a part of me that worries a little that 20-somethings of any era might ever believe a little too unrealistically they have some kind of right to “be selfish”. Hope that doesn’t sound harsh and not suggesting that anyone doesn’t spend time enjoying themselves and exploring things, of course – it’s a hard line to tread. I totally understand how ridiculously hard it must be to find jobs and homes, and the discrepancy between wages and rent, and how frustrating that is….

    I was reading the other day that there are something like 260,000 empty houses in the UK – left there to rot away because the councils and so forth can’t get their act together – and yet they keep on building overpriced new houses on green space. Makes me so angry!

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    1. I recently read an article about this issue that referred to the returners as “Boomerang” kids, too. (It was either on the BBC News site or in the pages of The New York Times.) Anyway, in part, the article focused on how much stress and upheaval is caused to the parents.

      I agree with C, Alyson, in that “a part of me . . . worries a little that 20-somethings of any era might ever believe a little too unrealistically they have some kind of right to ‘be selfish’.” As far as I’m concerned, it’s your house and your rules! I’m also not meaning to sound harsh/critical/judgemental, but these children should be grateful they’ll never be without a roof over their heads and three square meals a day and set aside their sense of “entitlement.” (Please tell me that you don’t do her laundry, as well?)

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      1. Yes, I hate it when these names are given to such phenomena but a good one, Boomerang kids (wonder if they use it in Australia as could get confusing!). They are all going to get a big shock though (as I did) when the responsibilities of work, parenthood, home-ownership kick in, so might as well have these Butterfly Years when they can. As C said though, not everyone has the privilege, but if you can, might as well make the most of it.

        As for our house, our rules, I’m afraid that ship sailed a long time ago and yes I did spend a lot of time last week hand-washing, laundering and ironing tricky items of clothing. That was what caused the “embarrassment” as it turns out but hey ho, I’m off to enjoy my “senior” Butterfly Years now, so all good!

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      2. PS – So much for not writing about personal stuff! I think it was agreed though that it can be therapeutic for a 48 hour period then the post can be depersonalised for the archive. That’s the plan anyway.

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    2. Ha ha – It’s a good one isn’t it C – The Butterfly Years! You are right of course, this idea that they have a “right to be selfish” is indeed a selfish one but you know what, the world they’re going to inherit is a difficult one, so if you get a chance to do a bit of travelling, “tinker with things”, “love a little” etc. in your 20s, why not. To be honest I left home at 18 and didn’t ever return – During my 20s I didn’t really spend much time visiting or thinking about my parents – Ironically, I now see my mum on a daily basis but that’s how life works out.

      Here’s a thing though – The Butterfly Years shouldn’t purely be for the young so I decided this morning, rather than hang around waiting for DD to appear that I would take myself off to the cinema to watch The Shape Of Water. It was excellent and a real treat for Mother’s Day. Our local cinema is a small artsy one with not many seats – If you get seat in front of all the other “patrons”, it feels as if you have the whole place to yourself which is really special – Loved it. Going to do a lot more of these sorts of things as under the “tenancy agreement”, I am now off the hook in terms of providing any sort of support. (But we’ll see how that turns out!)

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  3. I left home to live in a shared house with friends in 1979 and am (and will forever remain) appalled with my younger self for how nonchalantly I dropped that particular bombshell on my parents. In 1986 I swanned back into their house and dumped myself there for another three years as I established my own little record shop. Then, with the chance to purchase my own flat, I had the gall to ask Dad if he’d put up the deeds to their house as security for my mortgage. He did so, without hesitation. Yes, my twenties were certainly my selfish years.

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    1. I’m glad you dropped by with this story of your younger self’s cavalier attitude to the benevolence of your parents – To be honest I have a few such tales to tell as well and like you am now appalled at by behaviour. Just shows you though that these youngsters of today are no different to us. I am actually full of praise for DD and her friends in what they have achieved so far (considering the times), it’s just that her return home was supposed to be for 2 months and it’s now 20 months and counting – Things are starting to get a bit tense to put it mildly. She’s done better than I would have at her age though as I couldn’t have gone home for 20 days once I’d left, let alone 20 months.

      (My tale of selfishness revolves around my first car – I had saved up to buy one myself but at the 11th hour the parents decided to buy it for me. My dad took it home to our village to valet it and make it nice for me. All I had to do was get the bus home to pick it up but it coincided with a big night out in the city so I pretended I’d missed the bus. Poor dad drove all the way in to get me as they were so excited about this massive gift – I felt bad about it for years and although I missed the big night out, there was always another one the following weekend, but only one first car.)

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      1. Ah, quite reassuring in a rather bizarre way to know that most of us were rather selfish in one way or another in our youth! I think it goes with the territory at that age, we just couldn’t empathise with our parents and their lives and own pressures, and we still carried the residual expectations from childhood whilst flexing our newly acquired adult muscles!

        Good luck with it all, Alyson…

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        1. Yes, these tales of our own selfishness just goes to shows, nothing changes. I’ve read somewhere else that the “love goes down” and we never really appreciate what our parents did for us (if we were one of the lucky ones) until much later on in life.

          In these comments boxes it seems to be the passage about the Butterfly Years that has resonated most whereas it was really supposed to be a post about the so-called Housing Crisis. Yet now that I’ve thought about it more, DD was right to call me out, as we did indeed “embarrass” her and there was no need. If your adult offspring come home to live, you just can’t help but treat them as you did when they last lived at home as school-kids, which is wrong, but hard to avoid. As she told us, we live our lives at 30mph whereas she has to live hers at 80mph in order to fit everything in – Today she left for work at 7.30am and won’t finish until around 7.30pm as Monday is the busiest day in her industry. She will however only get paid for 7hrs and will be lucky to get a half hour break at lunchtime. When not at work she prefers to spend time with her friends/boyfriend which is totally understandable so I try to help by doing the laundry etc. I now see that this is not necessary as if she lived away from home she would have to do it herself and she is happy to do that.

          We spend a lot of time based at home so we don’t feel the need for weekends away or trips abroad (plus we have my mum to look after), but when you work long hours, these breaks from the routine are needed to recharge the batteries. As for the living arrangements, she was out with a group of friends last night and it turned out she was the only one without a mortgage, so it still can be done (with help from the Bank of Gran and Granddad it seems!). She could move out tomorrow but this return home has meant she has been able to save quite a bit for future projects (like retraining in order to get a better job down the line) – I can see now that I made it sound as if these youngsters were being quite selfish but it turns out many of us were just as bad back in the day (we just have a selective memory). Also, as I said above, the world we’re leaving them is not in such good nick as when our generation inherited it, so they’d better make the most of these years.

          I think this is what we coined a 48 hour self-destruct post! Glad I wrote it though as a good discussion afterwards – will do a bit of an edit later in the week but think most of it can stand. Thanks for your input.

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          1. It IS a great discussion point and I’ve actually learned a lot just reading your reply here too! I understand it more now from both yours and your DD’s point of view I think (and I can tell from all you’ve said she’s mature and hardworking which can’t be said for everyone at that age!) Your words suddenly reminded me of how, when Mr SDS and I were going out with each other in our late teens but still living at our respective family homes, we really enjoyed every bit of independence we could find, and we really resented anyone else fussing over us and making us meals, etc. It seems so ungrateful in retrospect! But we wanted so to do our own thing, to feel like proper adults, and it felt like our mums were treating us as children when they did things to help us. It was, of course, coming from a good place, but we just didn’t want it. I can totally appreciate that it must be such a tricky thing to find the right balance when you’re on the other side of that!

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  4. Being there for others is important, I hope you get some quality time to yourself as well. We all need both.
    Your DD deserves her “butterfly years” but does sound expensive these days to move away from home.
    Flats are not all they’re cracked up to be, but sometimes you are forced to settle for that choice. I lived in a small one when I was at uni in my 20s, the noise from the neighbours finally drove me out
    ”One last thing”. wasn’t that Columbo’s line 🙂 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ27fEm_ZCA )

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    1. Ha ha – He was a one that Columbo wasn’t he and I had actually forgotten about that line. He lulled everyone into thinking he was a bit of a bumbling buffoon then hit them with a bit of brilliant detective work right as he was leaving. Sadly not many cop shows nowadays where the detectives rely on hunches, everything is solved in the lab by analysing fibres and flecks of paint!

      The tenancy agreement and our very formal response has turned out to be a good thing – Both parties know exactly where they stand now so I will end up having more time to myself. Yes I lived in some crummy flats as a student and then some nice flats, but always very expensive. DD has done well in coming home at all as I never could have – Just wouldn’t have worked. Means there is now cash in the bank rather than in a greedy landlord’s hands so can only be a good thing.

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  5. Oh no, is this what I have to look forward to? Our son hasn’t even gone off to college yet. By the time, he gets out there will only be a couple of years left before I allegedly retire. I may not be much of a bank to him by then. Living was a lot less expensive when I was starting out, I feel bad for our kids. Anyway, hope you find some peace thru all this. I am glad for one to be well past the butterfly years: there was enough drama in that 4-minute Lumineers video to last me 4 years!

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    1. It does tend to be the case in the UK that they boomerang back and forth quite a bit before getting settled. As it turns out, the week since the “tenancy agreement” was drawn up has been our best in a long while. We all know where we stand now and I realise I had been still acting as the mum of a school kid whereas I really shouldn’t have. I am going to respect these Butterfly years a bit more. Talking of which, it doesn’t sound as if you’re going to jack it all in and head off in a campervan anytime soon. Very good – 4 years worth of drama in 4 minutes. Would be exhausting at our age!

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