Sometimes my kids ask me questions that rattle my mind like a cold, brass church bell. My skull had only just stopped reverberating from their last confounding query (“Mom, what does nothing look like?”) when my teenager riddled me this: “Why don’t old people at least try to be cool?”
It was an honest question, and it struck me as kind of brilliant — in the way that one often chooses to focus on her children’s refreshing curiosity rather than dwell on their astounding lack of manners or perspective.
I considered telling him that the answer lies in simple physics: Cool is a fast-moving target. And old people are slow. Then it occurred to me that by “old people,” he might very well mean me. I needed more information.
“If they would just put on a pair of skinny jeans and a V-neck T-shirt,” my son said, “they’d be cool.”
“According to whom?” I asked, cautiously. The parenting books say that active listening encourages your kids to speak openly. They also say it’s bad to call them idiots. So I listened.