by Annette Martel and Kelly Hagen
In early May, when everyone was posting photos of their sons and daughters at prom, I marvelled at how they all looked so grown up and beautiful. Seconds later, panic struck when I thought to myself, “I’m going to blink, and that’s going to be my children.”
Babydoodle Cutiebug (not his real name) is still a baby, so it’s a little difficult for me to imagine him in a tux standing next to his date with his flying car in the background. (We will have flying cars by then, right? Back to the Future promised us that much.)
However, Fashionista Sparklepants (not her real name) is four, going on 14, and she pretty much wears a prom dress to preschool every day, so I don’t have to have much of an imagination to envision her future as a teenager. It has been said that kids grow up much faster these days, and I am feeling the effects of that. When I was a teenager, I dreamed of New Kids on the Block and acid-washed jeans. When I was four, I refused to wear a dress and dumped dirt in my hair for fun.
Things are different now. I hear a song on the radio and think, “Ugh, this is horrible,” and Fashionista chides me for trying to change the channel. “I love this song,” she’ll insist. Then, when I find out that it’s by someone with a ridiculous name like, “Iggy,” I think, “Well, that does sound like someone that should be singing children’s music.” Trust me; it’s not.
Perhaps if she’s this ahead of herself in growing up, she’ll be getting into Miles Davis and John Coltrane when she is seven, indie music when she’s 10, and, oh dear, old-timey polkas when she’s a teenager?! Huh. Prom could be interesting. Mental note, learn to polka by the mid-2020s.
At least I’ve got some time before Fashionista and Babydoodle (not their real names) are teenagers. It’s a good reminder to enjoy your kiddos at every age, even if you don’t enjoy their taste in music, because before you know it, you’ll be lending them your flying car for prom.
Our daughter is dangerously close to being five years old. Also, she’s kind of a teenager.
She’s already perfecting the “Yeah right, Dad” glances, the sighing, the rolling of the eyes. She somehow enjoys Taylor Swift songs. She knows more about current pop music than her old man. “I love this song, Daddy,” she’ll say about some song playing on the radio, and I’ll be like, “Everything sounds like Prince. You remember Prince? He’s this tiny, little dude from Minnesota who wears puffy pirate shirts and tight pants, and he’s incredibly rad.” And she’ll tell me to please be quiet; she can’t hear the song.
Her real teen years are still just shy of a decade away, and I just have no idea what to expect. The lives of teenagers currently is so far away from my own experiences back in the ’90s, and I’m sure everything will change another four or five times before Fashionista (not her real name) enters her teen years.
Let’s talk about them old days.
When I was a teenager, if someone wanted to contact you, they had to call your phone. At your house. It was a telephone plugged into the wall, and it didn’t go anywhere. It was a rite of passage when your parents let you get a phone in your room, so you could talk in privacy.
I didn’t have a phone in my room. No one wanted to talk to me. That’s still kind of the case.
The buttons on the phone didn’t send messages of text to your friends when you pressed them. If you pressed the hashtag button, it didn’t tweet anything. It just made a droning beep noise.
There was no Facebook. There was no Internet. We had a computer lab in my high school, but the only kinds of webs connected to them were spider’s, not the World Wide variety. We learned how to type on word processors. There was a Typing Hall of Fame poster that you got your name written onto when you successfully achieved 70 words per minute on a test without an error. I got my name on that poster. I assume it’s still hanging up in that classroom, because that’s a hell of an achievement. Hopefully they at least put it into the trophy case.
As my sweet Annette mentioned earlier, kids are still going to the prom. I didn’t, but I don’t talk to people, so that’s to be expected. What is also to be expected is that, someday, our daughter will come out of her room wearing a sparkly prom dress, and I won’t notice because that’s just how she dresses all the time. But she’ll say she’s on her way to prom, and I should probably take her picture with my smart watch, because I’m pretty sure wristwatches are going to be doing everything for us by that time. And then some guy in a powder-blue tuxedo, puffy pirate shirt and too-tight pants (looking all like Prince) will show up at my door to pick up our little girl. And I’ll make vague threats to his well-being if he brings her home past curfew or drives recklessly through the air in his flying car.
And then they’ll leave, and I’ll be left there, playing Oregon Trail on my wristwatch, angrily muttering about how good music used to be.
Columnists Annette Martel and Kelly Hagen are married, have two kids, live in Bismarck, and would have gone to prom together, if only they’d known each other back then and didn’t live 200 miles away from each other. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.