By now, you’d think I would know better than to ask my children questions that make me appear old and clueless.
But either I haven’t learned or I just don’t care. I am, after all, a perpetually curious person.
And curiosity got the best of me after working in the concession stand at high school football games.
My son goes to a new school, and even though the facilities are state-of-the art, the school still has some catching up to do. For example, we have yet to receive health department approval to actually prepare anything. And when I say anything, I mean anything. Never mind the hot dogs and fries that people keep asking for, we can’t even fix coffee or hot chocolate.
When the temperature drops, everyone wants coffee and hot chocolate. When the adults are denied, they grumble and walk away. When the teenagers are denied, they smile and say “oh snap.” But then, when I’d tell them we sell King’s Pizza and Chick-fil-A sandwiches, they also smile and say, ‘oh snap.”
I remember Tracy Morgan saying “oh snap” on Saturday Night Live, but the teens aren’t using the words to emphasize an insult. I just don’t understand the meaning.
I made the mistake of asking my 12-year-old daughter, who looked at me as though I were from a different planet. I should have expected that look. It’s the same one she gave her dad when she used the term “shipping,” and he said, “Isn’t that when you send packages?” It’s also the same look her brother gave me when I asked what he means by “swag” and “merch.” And it’s the same look I gave my parents 30 years ago when they expressed confusion about the word “bad” describing something really cool. Or, in their words, something “really hip.”
A friend with two teenage sons pointed out that asking our kids for definitions isn’t always safe. She once asked about a word that made both her sons turn red and demand to know where and how she’d heard it used. That’s when she started using the online Urban Dictionary.
“It’s just safer,” she said.
But no matter how I keep up on the ever-changing language of young people, I do want to keep up. It might not tax my brain quite as much as learning a foreign language, but it comes close. Plus, I really do want to know what my children are saying. I just don’t plan on ever attempting to use my newly acquired vocabulary in actual conversation.
That would be “cray cray” according to my daughter and make me a “derp” according to my son.