I can remember making fun of my mother when I was about 12 because she said, “Right on!” at a baseball game. In retrospect, I stand by that, because it was pretty funny. I mean, it was 1996, and we were not at a Black Panther rally.
I never thought, back then, utilizing the hip new lingo that Cher from ‘Clueless’ had taught me, that one day, language would leave me behind. But it would seem that it has.
A lot of my classmates in the cuckoo’s nest social work school interned in high schools. One of the biggest obstacles was not that they couldn’t relate to their students, or the bureaucracy of the Department of Education. It was that they had no idea what these kids were talking about.
At the time, I laughed it off, because I was working with senior citizens. The unusual terms I heard included “silly goose” and something about “the Charleston.”
But now I have to deal with it. And I’m trying to remember those talks we had in class.
One of my casework professors was very insistent that this “language barrier” be confronted. Tell the kids you are unfamiliar with the terms they’re using. Allow them to teach you.
Or hit up Urban Dictionary. A youth worker’s best friend.
Back in my day, it was good to be “tight” with your friends. I learned the hard way that now it’s bad. “Me and her, we’re tight.” “How nice! Oh, you’re angry and want to kill each other? Not as good.” Yeah, “tight” has gone from meaning “close” to meaning “angry.” I was not even consulted.
One of my girls told me that a boy in her school had ‘violated’ her. Fortunately, she was able to explain what this meant, before I filed a report. Turns out she had not been sexually assualted, but treated with disrespect. OK.
A mother called me, frantic, because a friend of her daughter had called the house and threatened to “eat their food.” Well, yes, that would be bothersome, and rather rude. Oh, a quick internet search–“eat your food” actually means “cut someone in an attempt to do murder.” That is serious.
Nothing has disgusted me more, though, than when the kids want me to take them seriously. “Miss, I’m not playing. I am DEAD ASS!” I’m sorry, but you’re what? That’s just gross.
I can’t ask my girls about their “boyfriends,” because that just sounds silly. I have to ask, “How are things with your boo?” (Side note: I cannot bring myself to do this.) A 14 year old girl can be heterosexual but have a “wifey.” Really, they’re just friends.
If they were boys, they would probably follow up the “wifey” declaration with a hearty “no homo.” Because nothing makes you look straighter than constantly fretting that people might think you’re gay.
If anyone really gets mad at a girl, she might drop the s-bomb. That’s right, call that other girl a “smut.” That is not a typo. I’m not trying to say slut. Apparently “smut” is not just for porno anymore. It can be a person.
English is constantly evolving. Young people are asserting themselves and declaring themselves a part of their young culture by using words and phrases in ways they were never used before, leaving their parents, teachers, and social workers behind.
For real. I’m dead ass.