One of my son’s friends mentioned he was going to “burn a CD,” and I asked (in all sincerity), “Why would you burn a perfectly good CD?” Both thirteen-year olds looked at me with stunned and pitying expressions.
“‘Burn,” I lamely back-pedaled, “that’s another word for ‘duplicate,’ right?”
“Duh,” said Stephen rolling his eyes, which is his main form of exercise these days.
It wasn’t the first generational moment we’ve had. It won’t be the last. In fact, with technology galloping at breakneck speed, we don’t have “gaps” anymore. We have generation canyons. Three recent examples:
Moment #1: I sat at the computer keyboard typing away with my usual lightning speed. I took my first typing class in ninth grade, way back in 1978. Stephen, watching me, said, “I wish I could type that fast.” “I’ve been typing for 30 years now,” I reminded him. “Lots of practice.”
“Oh mom,” he said, punching my shoulder in an I’m-on-to-you way. “They didn’t have computers back then.”
I have to admit I laughed out loud at that comment. “We used a typewriter back then. Do you know what that is?”
“Yeah, I’ve seen ‘em in the movies.”
“You typed and these keys smacked a letter onto the paper. It was really loud. At the end of the line, you had to return the carriage. Like this,” I pantomimed smacking the carriage arm.
“What if you weren’t paying attention and you typed off the paper?” he said.
“A bell rang and you had five spaces to finish a word.”
“What if the word was longer than five spaces?”
“You had to split it,” I explained. “Part of typing class was learning where to divide words.”
What a quaint notion. Dividing words. Carriage returns. Carbon paper. Erasing errors. So primitive. So delightfully nostalgic.
Moment #2: Stephen and I were driving around to different ball fields looking for his practice. We couldn’t find his team, so we decided to call another team mother. Unfortunately, my cell phone was on the charger at home, so we stopped at the bowling alley to use the pay phone. I fumbled around in my purse for a quarter. “Call Mrs. B.” I said handing Stephen the money, “She’ll know.”
He patiently pointed out a call cost 50 cents, not 25, so I gave him another quarter. He stood awkwardly in front of the phone, jingling the money.
“What do I do?”
This is the kid who’s programmed my cell phone to ring a raunchy burlesque tune. The one who figured out all the gee-whiz features on our home phone, printer, and DVD recorder. The one who’s a techie whiz at Guitar Hero and Wii. Stumped by a pay phone.
Moment #3: I’m not music literate; never have been. I don’t know song titles or artists, but I sometimes know the lyrics. The other day in the car Stephen punched through the radio stations trying to find a song he liked. He stopped at “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet. I immediately started singing along.
“How do you know the words?” he demanded.
“That song was popular a long time ago. Well, I guess when I was about your age.”
He cringed, I mean visibly cringed. The funny thing is, he really liked that song once, but it’s blacklisted now.You can’t rock out to a song that your mother knows. Gross.