Thursday, November 12, 2009

How Old Are You?

“How old are you?”

This is a question that many of us get from students, and it’s a tricky one to answer. Some of us would rather not reveal our age, either because we’re old enough to be our students’ evolutionary ancestors or because we’re young enough to be asked for hall passes.

Personally, my favorite answer to this question has always been, “Old enough to know better.” When pressed, I usually say, “Older than you and younger than your parents.” Which is more or less true. Pretty soon I’ll be old enough to be the parent of my students, but not quite just yet. And the kids tend to give up at that point, because they know I’m not going to get more specific, and I have confirmed their suspicion that I’m relatively young and hip.

I used to hate being mistaken for being younger than I am, but I’m getting to an age at which I can appreciate my fresh, youthful appearance. Still, it’s a tough thing for younger teachers when SSAs tap us on the shoulders and holler, “Yo, get to class!” (True story.)

I feel old, though. It doesn’t take long, especially this day and age when the entertainment universe has become so fractured, to get out of the loop on what “the kids” are watching, listening to, or playing. I struggle with that. And the trends change so quickly. The rapper that was so cool last year is rarely that cool this year. Sneakers and clothing go in and out and in again.

I think the moment I became old was on the first day of school this year. I noticed many of my young ladies coming into school in plaid flannel shirts. And I could remember getting rid of my own plaid flannel shirts after grunge died in the mid-90s, thinking, “These will NEVER come back into fashion!” And when I saw those shirts, I knew it: I was becoming an old person.

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