Sign of the Times

I routinely crack up (as in laugh, not have a nervous breakdown. I save those for the special occasions, like when a tick fell onto my arm the other day while I was sitting at this desk and I acted like a SWAT team had just broken into my house) when I hear Saoirse speak. So many of the phrases she uses on a daily basis–her normal, everyday vernacular–is so, so different from anything you would’ve heard me or my brother, or anyone we knew, for that matter, say when we were growing up.

What, you want some examples? Why, I’m happy to oblige:

1.  At least three times a week at lunchtime, SK asks for hummus. Hummus and pita, to be exact, “but no coo-cumber in it. No. No coo-cumber. Tomorrow. You can give me coo-cumber tomorrow. I don’t like it.” My brother and I grew up in a small town in south-central Pennsylvania, Dave and his brother, in Baltimore city. We knew nothing of this stuff called hummus. We ate bologna on white bread, with Utz potato chips, silly, just like everybody else in the neighborhood.

2.  Saoirse, upon the disposing of a plastic cup: “I better put this in the trash so you can ‘cycle it.” That’s recycle, people. That’s right. We may go through 210 rolls of paper towels a year around here, but darned if my child doesn’t recycle her yogurt containers.

3.  Most days, right before dinner, this is heard: “Hey, Mom! Are you going to use the com-pooter so you can check a weh-ci-pee?” Because apparently I don’t use cookbooks anymore. Also, SK is asking in the not-so secret hopes I’ll turn on the TV for her while I ignore her for the internet. Sorry, kid. Go play with your cars.

4.  Something you know for darned sure we never asked our own parents: “Are you texting? Can I hit the button to send the text?”

5.  Um, not so proud to admit this. Yes, I’m a grown-up church-going Catholic, but you never, ever would’ve heard me say this when I was three: “I love to go to church!” Huh? During her prayers at night, no matter what day of the week, Saoirse thanks God for church. I used to just ask Him for a skateboard. I’d like to think that David’s hopes that she’ll choose the convent over boys one day will come true, but I have a sneaking suspicion that her devotion has more to do with the possibility that we’ll go out to eat afterward than a desire to worship.

6.  “Tofu.” As, in “I’d like some tofu, please.” I was a straight-on vegetarian for 20 years, and I don’t think this phrase ever came out of my mouth.

7.  “I want to hear the kitty cat again!” No, not Widget, our tailless wonder. She means the Talking Tom on Daddy’s iPad. Sigh.

8.  “I want to hear Mommy on the phone.” This is code for, can we listen to our voices on the message we just recorded for Dad? Someone please tell me this is just our daughter’s infatuation with modern technology and not the beginnings of early narcissism.

9.  “Yea, Starbucks! I’ll get the vanilla milk myself!” Yes, she recognizes the ubiquitous green-and-white logo. What? I have to use my gift cards sometime, right?

10.  And finally, “May I have some candy? I want some M&Ms for dessert!” Oh, wait. That’s not new. But when I was growing up, we just had plain ol’ M&Ms, not dark chocolate, and pretzel, and coconut (the last ones, not good. Gross, actually. Better luck just getting a coconut frappuccino at the aforementioned Starbucks…and before you judge, gift cards. I have gift cards).

So, there you have it: the sweet little expressions of modern childhood, that, though I prefer to see them as cute examples of how much times have changed, are really just the obvious reminders of the massive generation gap that exists between this 34-year-old mother and her young daughter–a generation gap that will only widen as she grows to discover Facebook, and cell phones, and high heels and low-cut prom dresses and…Oh, man. Let’s hope that she does decide to become a nun. In the meantime, I’m going to go find the M&Ms.

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