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Do kids make you younger?
L Word

Do kids make you younger?

1 by Sarita Rao 4 min. 25.05.2019 From our online archive
Gen X mum can't rap but she does have super powers
Twenty One Pilots' music resonates with kids who feel "Stressed Out". Photo:
Twenty One Pilots' music resonates with kids who feel "Stressed Out". Photo:

This might seem like an odd question, but I've been wondering if my kids keep me young, or remind me that I am firmly part of Generation X.

From my children’s perspective, I am already old beyond belief, as 20 is considered middle-aged. They would be gagging at the very thought I might be secretly sucking the life force out of them to remain young.

They laugh at my terrible dress sense, in which for several years, comfort has prevailed over fashion. They think it's ridiculous that I cannot rap –who can say words that fast? And they raise their eyebrows when I use old-fashioned words like "codswallop" or say things like "pardon my French".

Permanently tired

Only last week when I asked my daughter if I looked tired, she replied matter-of-factly: "Mum, you always have dark circles around your eyes".

Those dark circles developed when they were babies. Mostly the result of endless sleepless nights, not to mention the temporary insanity caused by watching too many episodes of Teletubbies and Singalong with the Disney Princesses.

Then there's my body. Yep, there is nothing like having tween girls to make you very body-aware. Their slim lithe figures remind me that these days the only part of me that is still pert is my nose. I feel like an actress who has swapped the romantic lead for the part of dour old matron. I am never going to be mistaken for being either one of their sisters, so I better leave the converse and crop tops alone.

Young eco-warriors

Young climate protesters in Luxembourg. Photo: Gerry Huberty.
Young climate protesters in Luxembourg. Photo: Gerry Huberty.

My children are also eco-warriors, who blame the generations before them for destroying the planet. They're quite right to question why my generation has done so little. Of course, when they ask if they can go on a climate change protest, instead of grabbing my placard, I worry that they will get the wrong bus home.

I'd like to be more politically active, but accompanying them on any protest would be social suicide for my kids, particularly if I try to make small talk with their friends. I won't know half of today's teen vocabulary and I definitely won't get the in-jokes. Not if my daughter's phone password is anything to go by. She uses complex patterns to lock it, whilst I mourn the demise of the PIN number.

In this sense I feel firmly part of the older generation, heading to a future where I will barely comprehend what is going on around me. But my kids are also a lifeline to that future world.

New music

A recent survey found that we stop discovering new music at around the age of 30. It’s true, I am a sucker for 80s anthems, 90s Britpop, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Queen revival last year.

Recently though, I have been forced to listen to the Twenty One Pilots on a continuous loop in the car, and we are in the car quite a bit. The music is a blend of everything that's come before – rap, hip hop, reggae and rock, sprinkled liberally with electronica. The lyrics are mostly about self-doubt, anxiety, fear of failure and depression. My oldest says she relates to it completely.

It's opened up a little window to her world. It reminds me of how anxious I felt at her age. It also reminds me that despite my many years, I still feel that sense of self-doubt and fear of failure so accurately recounted in the lyrics. And it's single-handedly brought me up to speed with the music of today without a hint of Justin Bieber.

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Having super powers

It’s not all teen angst. Children are marvellous, by which I mean they make you watch countless MARVEL productions before you are allowed to see Avengers Endgame. I cannot count the number of Iron Man, Spiderman and Guardians of the Galaxy films I've had to watch.

The fact my kids accept without question that people have superpowers, gives me a sense of hope – even if some of them are talking raccoons or mini trees called "Groot". To my children, the world is much bigger than just our planet, and anything is possible. 

Of course, they will never recognise the super human feats I perform every day for them, not least getting them to school on time. But that's not the point really. It's what they give to me, not the other way round. 

Gen X learns from Gen Z

And they have given me a new lease of life. If it weren’t for my kids, I would never have dropped freefall on Disney's Tower of Terror, canoed 18km down a fast-flowing river, clung to an inflatable dragged by a speedboat, or read a lot of books in which witches and vampires are the good guys.

Children expose you to new ideas and new experiences. They challenge your belief systems. If you are wise you can listen, learn and experience things through them.

My children don't make me younger, but they remind me of what it was like to be young, and they continuously expose me to new things. If I survive in tomorrow's world, it will be because of them.

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