Group of Cleveland Browns players protest, and refuse to stand during national anthem

Learning to speek the language of ‘teen’


Who knew a single word could produce such horror, disdain and disgust?

Then, again, with young teenage girls, I’m learning anything is possible.

For the record, all I said to my young teens on the last night of a recent beach vacation was, “Make sure you leave your thongs out of your luggage for tomorrow’s boat ride.”

“What!?” Here came the horror. “Our thongs? What are you talking about?”

“You know, thongs,” I said, pointing down to the strappy rubber soled shoes I was wearing on my otherwise bare feet.

“Flip-flops!” Both girls corrected me.

“Yeah, flip-flops, thongs same thing,” I said.

“Why would you call these thongs?” my girls wanted to know squirming in the latest public embarrassment I’ve apparently caused them.

“That’s what we called them when I was growing up,” I explained. All I got back in exchange was the look that says, “Weirdo,” or some modern equivalent.

Did we or did we not call the shoes referred to today as “flip-flops,” did we not call them, “thongs?”

I’ve spent more than 20 years in TV news. I’m a published author. I write this newspaper column. Yet, it wasn’t until I had kids that I realized I have no command of the English language.

I shop for food each week at the market. My daughter informs me it’s “the grocery store.”

And I need a glossary to keep up on their social lives.

“Brittany and James are going out,” my daughter told me a few years ago when she was in sixth grade.

“Going out?” I raised a concerned doubting eyebrow. “Not a chance Brittany’s parents would let her out of the house with a boy.”

“Yeah, I know,” my daughter agreed.

“So why do you say, ‘They’re going out’ when actually they don’t go out anywhere?” I asked.

“Well, cause, that’s what they do. What we call it. ‘Going out.’” In other non-explaining words, it’s just what we do.

“How about ‘going steady?’” I offered remembering the term we used in sixth grade. Didn’t go over big.

“What does that even mean?” my daughter replied.

Beyond words, I’m still not entirely sure what these kids do with all their avenues for communication and language.

Often, my daughter will spend a good chunk of time texting with a certain friend.

“Oh, what’s Jenny doing tonight?” I innocently ask.

“I dunno,” comes back the reply.

“Haven’t you just spent the last hour texing with her?”

“Uh yeah.”

“In that entire time, you’ve have yet to ask her what she’s doing? Where’s she’s going? How she’s doing?”

“Uh, no,” my daughter replies with an added shrug that suggests she’d be more likely to ask her friend’s position on alien bowling alleys on Mars before inquiring the most basic “Who, what, when and where questions.”

I guess it’s not news that young people and adults communicate differently. I just don’t understand how I blinked and one day I was the old person being made fun of, rather than the young person shaking her head at the way some older people talk.

“Here’s a conversation starter for you,” I suggested to my daughter. “Ask Jenny if she likes to wear thongs to the market. That should get some thumbs texting, feet flip-flopping.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

7 of the craziest, coolest places to stay in Hocking Hills
7 of the craziest, coolest places to stay in Hocking Hills

Ohio’s Hocking Hills region offers plenty of charming B&Bs, cozy inns and romantic cottages to choose from if you are looking to make a weekend out of your road trip. Here are a few options that are off the beaten path to grab a night’s rest in. Experience the magic and tranquility of camping in traditional Sioux Native American tipis,...
Our ‘brilliant’ cat’ sets a high bar
Our ‘brilliant’ cat’ sets a high bar

In the first week of February, this newspaper published an article entitled, “Are cats actually as smart as dogs? New study says so.” Japanese researchers found that just like dogs, cats could “retrieve and utilize information from a single past event.” Both cats and dogs recalled which food bowls they had previously eaten....
What are your joints telling you?
What are your joints telling you?

After sitting for long periods of time, do you feel stiff? Do you have joint pain that is limiting your movement? Has a past joint injury started hurting again and you are not sure why? “One common cause of achy joints is inflammation,” says Matthew Heckler, DO, of Orthopedic Associates of SW Ohio. “When bones, tendons, and the cushions...
School means backpacks — be sure to use them safely
School means backpacks — be sure to use them safely

It’s back to school time, and for many students, this means wearing a backpack. While a backpack is a convenient storage place for books and school supplies, if overloaded or worn improperly carrying them can spell trouble over time. A study of pre-kindergarten through ninth-grade students found that changes in posture, particularly excessive...
The Kid Whisperer: When you disagree with your kids’ parenting style

Dear Kid Whisperer, I am a grandparent to three granddaughters who have parents that try, but don’t like to say “no” to their children. They want my husband and me to be on board with that philosophy as well. As former educators, we cannot with a clear conscience agree. We are finding it harder to spend time with our grandkids. Any...
More Stories