Monday, May 17, 2010

Karma kicker

Just this morning, a friend and I were discussing the embarrassment potential of parents. I bet I am not alone in this universe for having to endlessly endure the telling of cringe-worthy tales from my childhood, often narrated with a kind of absent-minded relish by my over-adoring parents. Unfortunate references to long-forgotten baby-talk, bloopers all the way from kindergarten right up to my braces days and beyond have a way of turning up at the most unfortunate of times, often in the midst of a civilised discussion on turnips.

Imagine my 30-something brain trying to process the insult of having an over-zealous parent asking me whether I remembered to wish a particular acquaintance who I had dutifully been chatting with for about five minutes before said parent appeared, making me look all indignant and say, “Err, of course, Dad!” To add insult to injury, this usually is a cause for laughter all around, followed by a cutesy little tale about my unfortunate antics as a child that inevitably follows, as night does day, while I slink away to fume. Parents, I tell you!

What I find most amazing (and somewhat adorable, if you come to think about it on your good days) is how parents continue to treat you like a kid while forever asking you to grow up. So even while they’re asking you to pull up your socks or your grades, they continue to tell those tales to all those on whom you wish a make a grown-up impression about you peeing in your pants when you were two. Adding to their tales are often those pesky relatives who remember seeing you last when you were just a wee lad or lass and who can’t get over the fact that evolution has a way of making you get off your hands and knees to become a responsible and respectable bi-pedal person who can do without being constantly reminded of just how much they have grown, horizontally or vertically!    

Now, even if anyone were to deny this fact, all they would have to do is to take a look around them at the battle of popular culture down the ages, which seems to scream on about this tussle between two seemingly harassed generations. On the one hand are those lovable but crazy folks, trying to understand why their sweet little girl listens to noise as compared to actual lyrics; while on the other are their kids who are desperately trying to find a way to explain the Internet to a generation that still continues to remind them to ‘post’ an Archies card by mail to an auntie in the US whose birthday is more than a month away.

The other day I was listening to that Linkin Park song called ‘Numb’ (yes, some people as old as me also like them…a lot), along with my friend’s eight-year old son (yes, some as young as that also listen to them). Well, he wondered if I had any of the band’s tracks and here I must admit to feeling immensely ‘cool’ that I did have it on my iPod – cool (or silly) enough to try and show off my entire Linkin Park to an eight-year old by playing it on the short drive to a mall.

And, to my sudden horror, I remembered my parents trying to casually drop phrases like ‘pep up’ into conversations with me in my wannabe years. There I was, trying to push my coolness down the throat of a little boy, who I remember as a day-old baby and whose embarrassing stories I am sure I will repeat to at least one girlfriend in the future.

This is the beauty of life, I thought. We become what we ridicule. Its God’s little joke on all those who have, at some time or another, looked at their parents as if they were aliens.  

So, as I start to resemble my mother more and more each day (and here I am talking about more than facial features) I realise that it is these pulls and pressures that define the topsy-turvy world of kids and grown-ups. What’s more, it is the bewilderment of one generation about the habits of another that continues to give us some of the most hilarious (and annoying) moments of our lives. And you know what the best part is? If we’re lucky, we’ll get to experience the madness from both ends. So, bring it on mom and dad, I don’t think I’m all that afraid anymore!    

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