Mom’s Voice: Recycled Expressions Separate Generations

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“Mom, what is a mission anyway?”

The conversation between Wyatt and me begun when he pointed out the streetlights in San Juan Capistrano. “They look like the little Hershey kiss streetlights in Hershey, Penn.”

But these, I explained were meant to represent bells, like the ones in the mission in San Juan Capistrano.

“They’re church bells,” I continued, “Each mission had a church.”

But the answer to the question, “What is a mission anyway,” is cloudy for most adults who don’t currently have a fourth grader building a model one. Not totally brushed up on the subject myself, I told Wyatt the Spanish priests built a bunch of them up and down California to convert the Indians to Christianity. Admittedly, more of a tweet than an answer to his question.

So I pulled out the only other thing I remembered about missions, thinking he may enjoy the trivia that adobe bricks were made from mud, straw, water, and horse manure. “Have you ever heard of adobe?” I asked.

“Like Adobe Flash?”

His sister started laughing, but I didn’t want him to feel badly. It’s not his fault that the only point of reference he’s ever had with adobe is the software platform used for viewing media content on computers, iPads and phones.

By definition, language “evolves within specific historical, social, and cultural contexts.”   The words “gay” or “silly” are the perfect examples of that.

For Wyatt, Spam will never first conjure up the image of the yellow and blue tin can of minced mystery meat, just as a firewall is no longer most obviously a wall made of fire-resistant materials to help prevent the spread of a fire.

When I was little, if someone said, “The server is down.” I would wonder what poor waiter or waitress tripped and fell, having dishes and glasses tumble from the tray and crash to the floor.

And a mouse pad? I would assume it’s where a mouse lived of course.

This is why kids think we’re the ignorant ones. We live in their world now. Full of recycled expressions they are claiming as their own. They’re the ones that are green. And I don’t mean environmentally conscious.

Between Steve Jobs and Gwyneth Paltrow, the even the simple word apple is forever distorted.

It’s all part of the generation gap; the changes in clothing, music, brands and world events permeate our language. It’s groovy, really, when you think about it.

Just as long as my kids never confuse their home with their homepage.


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