Edgy Mama: Learning the language of differentiation

I taught my kids how to speak. It wasn’t easy, particularly for my girl, who has a speech disorder. Even so, both children now speak passable English. Except when they don’t.

Some days I no longer seem to speak the same language as my kids.

For example, last week, they asked if I would take them to GameStop so they could get a free Jirachi.

“What’s a Jirachi?” I asked.

“It’s a legendary Pokemon that grants a wish every thousand years,” the boy answered.

“Every one thousand years?” I ask. “How does that help you? Does that mean you only get one wish?”

“Mom, Jirachi has wish attack.”

“What’s wish attack?”

“It increases his HP.”


The girl chimed in. “You have to explain it to Mom.”

“Why? She’ll never get it,” the boy replied.

This is true. Did you understand that? If you did, you’re probably a gamer or younger than me. Or both.

Once I’d ascertained that a Jirachi is merely a character in the Pokemon world with which my kids are obsessed, I agreed to take them to GameStop, despite the fact that it entails driving down Tunnel Road, which I despise (not the road, just the traffic and the marketing overstimulation). However, first I made them clean their rooms, do their homework, sort their laundry, and promise not to fight with each other for one thousand years. I’m no dummy.

Although it’s occasionally problematic for communication, I realize that no longer speaking the same language as my kids isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Why? Because they’re starting to separate — to differentiate themselves from me — the parent, the boss. This is developmentally normal and healthy. Forming their own opinions, finding their own interests, using their own slang, and playing their own adult-incomprehensible games is part of growing up.

Enviro-spouse’s aunt once told him, “Even if you like your kids’ music, pretend you don’t.”

Until recently, I didn’t understand what she meant. Now I do. Kids need their own music because if your parents like it, it ain’t cool.

So I’ll pretend to dislike their kid rap and hope that’s keeps them from graduating to curse-infused hip hop (which I wouldn’t have to pretend to dislike.) And I’ll continue to act nerdily thrilled when my son grants me a bone by saying, “We can listen to The Beatles, but only if it’s the shoo-shoo song.” That’s what he calls “Come Together” because of the opening vocals. Which makes me happy because he still occasionally reverts to those adorable toddlerisms that I do understand. Of course, he doesn’t realize that I’ll be embarrassing him in front of his peers for the rest of his life by saying, “Remember when you used to call this the shoo-shoo song, honey?”

The fact that my kids are individuating seems remarkable. Not long ago, leaving them with a sitter was agonizing. There might be a tantrum. There definitely would be tears. And the resultant cloud of parental guilt could put a damper on a rare night out.

Now they practically push us out the door the second the sitter arrives. Because our sitters — primarily high school kids — are much more hip and fun than mom and dad.

Soon, my kids will take those next steps into adolescence, where not only do they want nothing to do with their parents, but we constantly embarrass them. My pre-teen daughter already expresses horror at some of our behavior. Any kind of goofing off, such as when her Dad and brother walked like cats through the parking lot of Marco’s Pizzeria, sends her into a red-faced tizzy (the boy’s practicing for performances of the musical Cats at the Asheville Arts Center, so this wasn’t as weird as it sounds.) But it was soooooooo embarrassing.

Yes, I’m looking forward to offspring mortification. I’ll start wearing bright purple velour sweat suits that will make my daughter roll her eyes. I’ll sing snatches of ancient pop songs in the grocery store. I’ll regale my kids’ friends with tales of when they used to run naked around the front yard. And I’ll continue to look properly befuddled when they mention Jirachis.

Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.


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4 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: Learning the language of differentiation

  1. Alisa Bowman

    Loved reading this. It sort of made me wistful for my little recently post toddler who still has those chubbish cheeks and climbs into bed with me in the morning for a stomach to stomach full body hug. Don’t want that to end, though I know it must.

  2. Andi

    I have experienced this with my nieces. It’s even worse because I only see them rarely and I will never have a chance to understand!

  3. One of The Guys

    My kids still want me around. For now. They’re relatively young. But I know what’s coming. I get hints of it here and there.

    I know when the time comes it will be a good thing. Declaring independence and evolving into the adults they eventually will become is necessary and normal. But I’ll cling as long as I can to their innocence.


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