Keep Up!

When chatting with others, do you ever struggle to feel “in the know”? This is how I’ve been feeling about my place in society lately. The world is changing, and I don’t want to be left behind. 

My daughters do their best in their quest to keep me current, albeit not without eye rolls. When my husband died, leaving me a single mother, it was more of a challenge to stay current with news and culture, but once the kids had earphones, I was free to listen to NPR or escape with a best seller. I disavowed those “when-I-was-your-age” admonitions, but I had many occasions when I recognized their world was very different from the one in which I grew up. I enjoyed my kids’ music, in contrast with the arguments I had with my parents about the hippie sounds of the lawless, morality-free ʼ60s. 

I could count on my daughters to help me with technology. “How many times do I have to show you…” came from the child, not the parent. (Really? I taught you how to use a spoon.) As they grew older, more changes became harder for me to process, not the least of which revolved around appropriate attire. Did they miss the lesson on modesty, or did I miss the lesson on freedom of expression? I couldn’t keep up.

One daughter had a beau over for a movie and make-out. I felt compelled to remind them I was in the house, party pooper that I am. The young man was African American, and I was caught in thoughts about how far we’ve come. I told her that young Black men were lynched for less when I was in high school in the ʼ70s, and my daughter was shocked to realize just how recently mind-sets have changed. On this matter, I can say I have kept up. 

A decade ago, my 14-year-old daughter asked me if she could get her belly button pierced and I agreed. I was vilified by many. Today I have friends who accompany their kids to get matching tattoos. I’m trying to keep up. 

I experience challenges around language that I hope to overcome. I’ve had a lifetime of using terms that I now know to be offensive to others. I accidentally asked a new high school grad if they felt “gypped” out of their rites of passage by COVID. I caught it and apologized. When I was rebuked by my daughter for saying “lame excuse,” I was taken to task: refrain from ableist language. Not quite there yet.

I may not master current practices, but I do want to stay relevant and, of course, respectful, and that’s going to take some open-mindedness and gentle reminders. But let it be known that I am determined to keep up.