With evidence mounting over the past few years, I have now reached a position of complete certainty that – despite the cries of my younger self that I should ‘not go gentle into that good night’ – I may be outwardly demonstrating the inwards signs of becoming a true grown up.
I should have been more careful. I should have remained ever vigilant to catch those moments when my words rang in my ears as direct echoes of my mother from my childhood. When discovered buried beneath my attempts to appear young and on trend, I should have quickly cast aside these moments like burning coals and sought instead for a better phrase.
When watching TV with my daughters and finding the plot line of the latest episode of ‘Monster High’ confusing and nonsensical, should I have asked my children ‘what is this rubbish you are watching?’ No! I should have said ‘this is sick!’ (and meant by that ‘this is very cool’ rather than ‘I may soon vomit.’).
I should have done these things to stave off the inevitable march into adulthood…….but I haven’t. And why? Because I am now officially past it and happy to admit it.
The thought of saying anything is ‘sick’ and meaning it in a good way is just a step too far; a boundary I am not prepared to cross; the final frontier for me in my attempt to hang on to the coat tails of youth.
I give up now. I surrender. I am a grown up and happy now to accept this as my place in the world.
Maybe if things had stayed at the point of saying ‘my bad’ I could have adapted. After all, that is merely a contraction of the fuller phrase ‘I believe that was my error. Sorry about that.’ But ‘sick’? I can’t carry that off.
And seriously. Can anyone over the age of 30? Isn’t it like wearing a baseball cap backwards or having a snapchat ‘story’? Surely it is just an invite to young people to look at you in pity and wonder when you will just act your age.
Now I like to think I am reasonably youthful: I listen to new music; I adopt new forms of social media but increasingly, I realise that my concept of youthful does not match that of the actual youth. If I play my music choices to my 16 year old students, they are blank-faced and unimpressed. The new music I choose is not theirs.
I recoiled in horror when a student told me that their peers regularly post a photographic record of the minutiae of their daily life on a snap chat story. ‘Why?’ I asked? ‘Why would you do that? Why on earth would anyone else be interested in your breakfast choices?’
And that’s the point isn’t it. Every generation makes their own rules; builds their own vocabulary; sets their own social norms and, in doing so, effectively shuts out the generations above. And that’s as it should be. For we must all forge our own path to be that little bit different from those who came before us. My children will form a part of the next generation of teenagers to come up with their own phrases and idioms that even those much younger than I will find baffling.
As for me? I will continue to navigate my way through this every changing linguistic world. I may choose to adopt those youthful inventions that hold cross-generational appeal (I particularly like ‘Whatever’ and find many occasions to utilise this one) and laughingly reject others (my children’s love of the phrase BFF (best friends forever, if you are in the dark) makes me want to laugh and vomit in equal measure (does that make it ‘sick’ I wonder?!)).
But ‘it’s all good’. I am at peace with this new phase in my life. I will gracefully bow out of the arena and let the next generations take their place. I am sure they will be ‘sick’.