From time to time I love to include a guest post from a great storyteller. I met Jo Castro at the Problogger event last year, and when she contacted me to see whether she could write for WoogsWorld, I said HELL YEAH! Hope you enjoy her tale as much as I did, and go swing by her own blog and say hi. She writes about travel, something I would love to do more of.
I was sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, listening to the gut-wrenching sound of the high speed drill, and flicking through the tantalising pages of an outward-bound holiday brochure.
You know, trying hard to ignore, ‘MY TURN’.
Anyway, I got all fanciful and mulled over the idea of escaping the domestic drudge to head for high adventure. Africa overland maybe, or Siberia by train.
But reading the small print about the trip that caught my eye quickly diminished my expanding horizons. Gee, they were brutal words. ‘Not suitable for the under eighteens, nor for the over thirty-fives.’ It was about as welcome as news of a root canal treatment.
Crap! I don’t know about you, but not so long ago anyone over thirty-five seemed to me, either ancient, incapable, or definitely suffering dementia one way or another, and now here I was at one with them and seemingly at the wrong end of adventure.
“Ageism”, I muttered. My heart fluttered as if about to give up the ghost. God! Had time flown by so fast?
So when my hormones, which were fleeing the sinking ship setting it alight as they went, were rallied back to base, I thought not of me, but of our teenage son.
Not quite old enough yet, but surely he was biding his time for high adventure? My mind drifted back to this morning’s conversation.
We were late for school. I was giving him the normal Sergeant Major ‘once-over.’
“What are you staring at Mum?”
His hair was gelled into spiky little pyramids. It was too late to make a fuss.
I wondered if his homework was in his bag or under the couch.
“By the way, you haven’t given me my pocket money,” he stated emphatically.
“I have. You spent it in advance, remember?”
"That was last week. You still owe me this week’s - and that IOU note you haven’t paid me for that yet.”
Blimey. This definitely never happened when I was young.
Then the budding accountant in him seized the moment.
“Mum, I need a loan.”
“An iPod, and some new computer games.”
He tried to change the subject, no doubt to stimulate my pity.
“And I can’t go to school today. Feel my forehead. I’ve got a temperature,” he said dramatically whilst simultaneously clutching his stomach.
“No you haven’t. You’re perfectly all right.”
“Last time you said that I was sent home with a very high fever.”
I cringed a bit. This much was true. I am a wicked bitch of a Mum. But he was relentless.
“Mum, I can’t find my pens.”
We began a search for pens as I watched the clock ticking inexorably towards The Bell.
My head started a mind rant. “Why didn’t he do this last night? Would he ever be organised enough for adventure? Surely he’ll expire. Forget his sunhat. Lose his passport or perhaps bicker constantly with the tour guide who’ll be forced to leave him somewhere like Mongolia? I’m obviously not equipping him with even the most basic skills to cope with anything, let alone a three month trip overland in a truck if he ever chooses to take one.”
Crikey. Was it all too late? Would he end up as a computer-play-geek, unable to socialise in person, never having sniffed hint of adventure?
Oh dear, this must surely be my fault.
But in the midst of all this he calmly explained to me.
“When I’m older, I’ll only eat pizza and I’ll live in a luxury flat. I’ll have it black, and all hi-tech. I’ll have a huge 3-D TV, with Foxtel, a state of the art computer with Skype, the best games and Playstation, a stereo with big speakers and everything will be silver, really modern - spacey.”
I suddenly had a heightened stab of vision and saw this futuristic room all black and silver and shiny.
“Lovely,” I said without feeling.
“I’ll have nothing old. Not like your old stuff.”
Our old stuff? Our treasured quirky bits of this and that we’ve picked up here and there on our travels. I tried not to say anything.
“Our old stuff!” I blurted out. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you know Mum. It’s old and shabby.”
My heart was troubled. My calcifying brain cranked into action. We hadn’t encouraged him to like the new, the flash or the modern, we didn’t want him to be into instant gratification in any way. Oh no! We were always stating values, and worthfullness and other principled sort of stuff.
“You’ll have to have a good job to be able to afford all that!” I spat, ready to launch into the ‘let’s get to school’ lecture.
“No I won’t. I won’t waste my money on travelling, like you did,” he pipes up quick as a computer War Games bullet.
When did he and I become so different?
The hard part is that I hadn’t realized that being middle-aged meant everything was beginning to turn upside down. Nothing seemed to gel quite the way I envisaged it would when I used to dream destinies for my little baby with the big blue eyes whose perfect pout was once tugging eagerly at my breast.
I should have known even then that with each gulp he took, the more determined he became to fulfill his own ambitions which would, by evolutionary necessity, be opposed to mine.
I had become a generation removed from a whole focus of thought and action - without ever noticing the slippery consequences of time. The generation gap is like a slide; and I didn’t notice the scenery until I fell off at the bottom.
“Next,” the dentist called out from behind his space-age mask.
Oh heavens. Please don’t let my teeth be old and worn and shabby I thought desperately, while reluctantly anticipating new, black and silver - of the amalgam variety.
What have your kids said or done that has reminded you that the generation gap is alive and well?
Footnote: My son has since grown up into a sociable young man, and I love him to bits. He’s still a technocrat, and he still likes black, silver and shiny new stuff.
Johanna Castro is a freelance writer and blogger. She writes about travel (mostly) at http://www.zigazag.com where you'll find some light hearted posts about getting older too.