23 November 2012

Commentary: Me, Old Age, and One Direction

As pretty much anybody who knows me already knows, I work with kids day in and day out. With all of the time I spend with my students, however, I'd say that they still don't know all that much about me personally. 

I've never aimed to be aloof with the kids but I think that the dynamics of my workplace just make it harder for them to get to know me on a "random factoids" level. Even though I've got coworkers, I'm the go-to adult for homework help and conflict resolution. I also make it a point to keep an eye on the program overall so I'll gently nudge, reprimand, call attention to (I think you get the idea) individual students as necessary. All in all, I'm pretty busy and don't have a lot of time for chit chat.

So my kids consider it a treat when the program's mellow enough for them to sit around and hang out with me (it's flattering in its own way). On one of these days, we got into the, "When you were little, did you..." line of conversation.

It started off with things like, "Angela, when you were little, did you know everything?"

"No way! And I still don't know everything." (Seriously, kids can be great for your ego.) "I'm still learning new things every day, and actually, when I was little, I had a really hard time learning my times tables. I bet you guys didn't know that, right? I finally learned them because my mom made me practice them every day, just like I make you guys do now."

"When you were little, did you go to pre-k?"

"Nope, I didn't go to pre-k because there wasn't one close to my house when I was growing up."

The revelation about the lack of pre-k attendance in my personal history was a real shocker. My kids are so used to the idea that everybody goes to pre-k that they had a really hard time accepting that I hadn't. I explained to them that it was while I was young that pre-k became a much more normal thing for toddlers to attend.

"When you were little, did you think homework was fun?"

This question is a classic one. I feel like the kids ask it because they feel it's taboo. It's like they're daring you to say that homework is anything but fun because they know that you're an adult and you're supposed to be setting a good example for them.

"Sometimes. A lot of times I thought it was hard but I always did my homework anyway because I knew that it was good for me to practice the things I had learned in class."

And then came the question which made me quite old in their eyes. Lol, I know that 25 is nowhere near ancient, and actually, a good number of my students have siblings, cousins, or aunts/uncles that are my age but still, the following question definitely dated me.

A second grader asked me, "When you were little, did you like One Direction?"

Before I could answer, a fifth grader replied, "Silly, when Angela was little, they were babies."

"Probably. When I was little, people liked boy bands like 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Have you guys heard of either of them?"

Blank stares all around.

"Well, you guys know who Justin Timberlake is, right? He's from 'N Sync, and the Backstreet Boys are part of the group NKOTBSB now."

A chorus of "Ohhs" went up and remarks like, "Yeah, I know who that is," or, "Yeah, I've heard of that group," went around. Man, it's kind of crazy to think that JT is far enough removed from 'N Sync now that he's a known name in his own right. 

Anyway, that conversation got me thinking, how old are the members of One Direction? As it turns out, my fifth grader was totally right. When I was little, those boys were babies.

One Direction members and their ages:
  • Niall Horan, 19
  • Zayn Malik, 19
  • Liam Payne, 19
  • Harry Styles, 18
  • Louis Tomlinson, 20

Do I feel like an old fart? Pfft, no, not really. I usually feel old when the thought, "When I was a kid, I didn't do that," is running through my head but I actually like observing how some things have certainly changed since I was little and how other things really haven't. 

Plus at the end of the day, it's about staying young at heart even as you're physically aging, right?

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