Do you ever feel lost when your kids talk to you? Do they ever use slang that zooms over your head?
My daughter is at the age where her vocabulary is starting to take a shape of its own. When I told her something I thought was funny and clever, she replied to me, “Dad, that is such an ‘Uncle’ joke.” I got the hint from the way she said it that it wasn’t a compliment.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“You know, the kind of joke your Uncle tries to tell.”
I was just as much in the dark as ever before.
It happens with every generation. Kids develop their own personalities, style, and ways of communicating, and the rift of understanding between parents and kids seems to widen. But when you find a common thread you can both hold onto and relate to, a connection remains that brings you together.
I was thinking about this while watching Sanjay’s Super Team, the Pixar-animated short that was shown right before The Good Dinosaur. Sanjay’s father tries to get Sanjay to take part in daily prayer rituals, but Sanjay’s mind is fixated instead on television shows about superheroes. Neither can relate to each other, until Sanjay’s world collides with his father’s and suddenly there is a way for them to close that distance between them.
When I was growing up, my mom and I created that connection through video games. Even though I grew older (and my mouth grew bigger), my mom always tried to be involved in what I was doing. Sometimes there were things I needed to do with just my friends, so my mom would simply play a supporting role, but other times she was right there in the thick of things. My mom was my best Atari competitor. We would spend long hours playing Air-Sea Battle and Missile Command. There were lots of games where I won pretty consistently, but nobody could beat my mom at Missile Command. She was the best. Today, we still share a love of games, except now it’s on our iPads.
My daughter Emma is still young and we have tons in common, but more and more I see her developing her own distinct style, even in things we like together. She and I both play games on our iPhones, but she has different favorites than me. We both like working in the kitchen, but she loves baking and I love cooking. And apparently I like to tell “Uncle” jokes, and she doesn’t. We still have an amazing love of mysteries, and in particular, Sherlock Holmes. Moreover, Emma is my best Disneyland wingman.
While I won’t know for sure what things will keep us together in the future, I’m not worried. Like Sanjay’s dad in the animated short, I have faith that with patience and love, that gap will never grow too wide. Just wide enough for her to be her own person, and one that I will always be proud of.
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