Saturday, 22 September 2007

Generation Gap

Between the ages of fourteen and twenty I discovered that defunct state, The Generation Gap.

There was nothing my parents, particularly my father, said or did that I didn't jump on and trash in my sneering, holier-than-thou, perfectly accented English. More importantly, I was able, with alarming ease, to wind my father up to a sclerotic rage. My clothes, the music I listened to, the magazines I read, my espousal of Chinese communism and my devotion to Jane Fonda in her Hanoi Jane phase; all flipped his switch. I goaded him at every meal with tales of poor miners dying of pneumonoconiosis, of state-sponsored phone-tapping, of a brutal police force. You'd think we were living in Argentina instead of Stockport. In the meantime he continued to send his hard-earned money to my private, fee-paying school in an effort to transform me into an English young lady, as opposed to the foul-mouthed, aggressive little Balkan I so obviously was. I was a monster; it was a game. Everyone was playing it.

But eventually I left home, went to University, occupied the Dean's office for a few weeks and then got over myself. Throughout this period I never stopped loving my parents and was full of admiration for the good life they had managed to create for themselves and me, in exile, through hard work and talent. But they were my parents, out of touch with the 60s and 70s and so, well, old.

Fast-forward thirty odd years and here I am with my own clutch of teenagers and I find myself wondering what we could ever really argue about. Yes, OK, there's the bedroom situation (How do you know it's a bedroom, if you can't see the bed?); the staying out late fiascos ('I did get to the bus stop on time, but they moved it, honestly....the bus just never came.'); and the endless wheedling about money. But really we like and love each other and share similar views about everything. We listen to the same music, read the same books and I wear jeans just like them. And now my daughter, about to go off to Uni, has asked me to be her Facebook friend. And then one of her friends asked me too......I don't know whether to be secretly thrilled that I'm a mildly 'cool' mum or to feel concerned that I have never been on the receiving end of the appalling behaviour I so clearly deserve.