Friday, May 18, 2012
My daughter told me this morning that her friend Elena has a boyfriend named Trevor. "But Trevor's a jerk," she said. "You know what that is?"
I nodded my head. I know what jerks are.
"A Junior Educated Rich Kid," she informed me, correctly assuming that I didn't really know what a JERK was. "I'm just a JEK," she went one, "since we're not rich."
Oh, how I savor moments like these. Not for the actual conversational content, because it usually wears me out to listen to too much of it. But I do enjoy the glimpses I get into her world and all the make-believe characters she and her friends create that change as fast as YouTube fads.
I listen to her recite the singsong chants she and her friends make up to play hand-bump games. We used to play hand-bumping games, too, when I was a kid. "Bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish. How many bubble gums do you wish?" And other nonsense. I remember what it felt like to be that age.
I'd better, since I write for middle graders.
Listening to my daughter and her friends is a good reminder of what friendships, and crushes, and social interaction was like at that age. When they talk, I can feel it. I can remember the idealism, insecurity, and confusion that goes along with that age. Also the joys and excitement. And most of all (for me) - the fickleness. My world, my interests, my interactions with my peers, all seemed to change on a daily basis. A month from now if I ask her if she's still a JEK, she may not even know what I'm talking about. The world moves fast at that age.
I try to remember these things when I write middle school fiction. I probably won't ever use current slang in my work since it changes so quickly and would be outdated before anyone ever read what I wrote. But it's good to remember that kids make up these acronyms and slang terms and recess games on an almost daily basis. That's important to my work, much more than the actual words. Knowing this kinda makes me a SENK, don't you think? (Senior Educated Non-Kid. I just made that up!)