It's a real fish-out-of-water feeling. Like when I was in China last year visiting Xian University and 99.9% of all the students I met were English majors who could quote Hamlet better than me, an English teacher.
I was in China for 2 weeks and I went to lunch with students, played ping pong with students, danced with them, sang with them, and even bought pirated movies with them. And what did they want to talk about? Avril Lavigne. They all talked about Avril Lavigne. And Prison Break, and 24, and David Letterman, and George W. Bush, and of course, Hamlet.
My point is, I didn't feel like a stranger. Imagine how strange that feels in a strange land!
I call that a snow-globe moment. It's not the same thing as an ah-ha moment--no sudden striking realization. It's more a flickering, when your little bubble gets shaken and you get an inkling that there's a big wide world out there who knows the punch-line to a joke you've never even heard. And when you finally hear it, you scratch your head and think, huh?
Well, that's how I've been feeling lately.
It all started on Friday after my daughter performed with the dance team at the Kahuku Football game. Afterwards, one of her dance mates rushed towards her mom bubbling, I did a perfect Barrel tonight! Good job, said her mom, and I hit a perfect E. Yea! I can't wait until I can hit a perfect E! she gushed back.
Don't worry, I didn't get it either. But they did. They understood each other!
So I said to my daughter, "Hey, you hit a perfect baby-doll tonight."
She looked at me and with that mom's-are-from-venus-dad's-are-from-mars" face and said "What's a baby-doll?"
I began illustrating (until her eyes bulged out of her head). "That's NOT a baby-doll. That's a toe touch!"
"Well, in my day it was called a baby-doll."
TIP: Never say, in my day, around your teenager.
She rolled her eyes. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."
That was the first flickering. But last night I had another. It all began on our living room floor.
A classic Dad-helping-daughter-with-her-algebra-II scene. I wasn't paying much attention, but somewhere in between killing a cochroach and throwing out the moldy rice, their words began coming through in waves. Words like point slope form and slope intercept form.
Did you know that when a negative crosses the equal sign it becomes a positive? Did you know that anything squared is a curve? And did you know that when the line is perpendicular to y = x – 2 the slope is the negative reciprocal?
Neither did I.
(Snow globe moment!)
They were plugging a point into the slope–intercept formula, and solving for X. They were adding 2's and replacing y's and plusing b's, and she was saying hmmm and ahhhh and I was saying Did I give birth to you?
He was saying that an equation for the line parallel 2y=2x-2 is y equals 1/2, and she was saying oh, that makes sense now and I was saying and a baby-doll doesn't?
It's all Greek to me, and not Greek in that imaginary-romantic-encounters sense of the word.
Long story short, I'm feeling all alone in my little snow globe world, where negatives don't get to be positives just because they cross the dadgum equal sign and squares have to stay straight because they're just not supposed to curve.