According to Urban Dictionary, this Korean expression means” “When I was your/at your age” or “during my time.” Since “나 때(Na ddae)” sounds like “Latte” and “말이야(Malee yah)” sounds like “is (a) horse”, Koreans translated these into English in their own way and {the expression} is supposedly a common phrase for Boomers to use.” (https:www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Korean)

My son sometimes calls my husband and I Boomers, which rattles both of us. Each time, he says this, my husband slips into owly professor mode: “We’re not actually Boomers. It’s just not accurate,” and each time my tween son says, “I realize that, but it’s just an expression as in, you are out of touch.”

Though I am only vaguely aware of social media’s obsession with generational distinctions, I did fairly recently evaluate the part in my hair to see if I should move my side part to the middle. (I’m on the Side Part forever team, you?) I do know this, I have a real admiration for young people-millennials, Gen Y and Z clumped together–because they are leagues ahead of my generation when it comes to things like gender identity. Whereas my generation had some of us chuckling at hard-to-define Pat on Saturday Night Live, the youngest among us like my 6 year old daughter (Gen Alpha?) is a different beast; she instinctively cheered on her guy friend who sometimes wore dresses to school and can nimbly explain to her classmates what it means to be non binary/trans/gender non conforming when her teachers read a corresponding picture book at circle time.

I can see why my son sees me in particular, as a Boomer. Laughing riotously at everything Fran Liebowitz said in the Netflix series Pretend It’s a City, and forcing my reluctant son to watch two episodes did not help distinguish me. More substantively, I had a considerable learning curve when my son came out first as non binary and then trans. How I commandevah’d when he first cut his hair short and wore boy clothing. How I slipped up on pronouns for too long and mumbled that my trouble lay in the fact that “they” was not grammatically correct when I knew better and said the wrong, hurtful things out loud. I was so embarrassingly un-woke regarding gender identity to the extent that a recent handwritten Valentine’s card from my son began with “You used to be a transphobe and ableist but now you are not.” (Hallmark cards 2030 maybe or better yet a new Girl Scout/Boy Scout badge of the future, see my imagined embroidered badge below).

My roughly embroidered badge for the Boy/Girl Scouts. I know it’s ugly. Sorry. Embroidery is so hard at night!

That card with those blunt words from my son, might be my shining glory finest achievement as a parent and a human. Yes, I’m a little proud of me and excessively grateful to him for being patient with my stumbling. I certainly strained my comfort zone by attending a large parent support group in which we all had to begin each session by identifying ourselves by our religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, class and other categories on a Friday night. The earnestness and open emotion of strangers struck me as cheesy and new age at first. I sometimes left early and wandered the streets–a couple of times finding solace in the plastic trinkets of a Flying Tiger store before picking up my son from his own group. I sometimes gnawed on an entire pack of green apple HI Chews as I sat in the circle and listened to the parents’ tales. I’d busy myself with petty thoughts about the other parents, i.e, critique someone’s ugly shoes or roll my eyes internally at the etiquette of saying “anyone else” after speaking. Slowly, over the course of a year, I learned to enjoy these sessions– the solidarity with deaf parents who signed to participate, parents who brought their non verbal, moaning autistic child to session, fathers from cultures particularly hostile to gender non-conformity who spoke of their fears so movingly and the welcome moments when we collectively laughed about something and found joy in an unexpected setting. (Though before I pat myself on my own back I note that my son does not think I am sufficiently woke but that I’m at least not the anti -woke Dark Force. My battle is not yet won).

Perhaps, there is no place I am more Boomer than the legal services office that I have worked at for a lifetime. For it is here, that my computer illiteracy rears its head and brands me as someone born in 1973. As my employment law coworkers, all younger than me know well, I am a bit of a Ping-peu, a Korean-English expression, which translates into “finger princess,” someone who waits for others to search for information because their fingers are royal.” (Creatrip.com ) I’m always asking coworkers where to find forms on the F drive, lazily ignoring recently sent emails on point. And Zooming has been a particular hurdle for me and my ilk. See me unwittingly Zooming into one meeting multiple times–my little face a pattern on the screen. Then watch me struggle to be one of the class parents for my daughter’s Kindergarten class, a position that largely requires the ability to send group emails and thus, is completely nefarious and ill-suited for me.

The topic of cultural appropriation is another one I wade cautiously through at work. One notable debate with two young attorneys and myself over the Caucasian artist Dana Schutz’s abstract painting of Emmett Till at one past Whitney Biennial pitted me against the kids. I liked the artist’s painting and I thought Ms. Schutz should be celebrated, especially alright as the work of amazing Black artists were displayed. The consensus in the room was a white artist has no right to paint Emett Till and be lauded for it. The vehemence that greeted my opinion surprised me at the time. Same for when I argued most passionately that people should be able to write from the perspective of any character/race/class as long as they do it smartly and sensitively of course. But no one was my friend that day. I felt so old.

So where do you fall on the generational spectrum not based on your age but by things like your tech abilities, your “woke-ness”/ your attitude about topics such as cultural appropriation? Do you like where you stand? Somewhat related, consider a fun, little parlor game that my son began the other night where we analyzed everyone we knew in terms of whether they are woke and/or interesting, which sometimes lead both of us to slap the dining room table and cry out in unison as we assessed one friend, “Interesting, but NOT WOKE!” Try it. It’s somehow entertaining.

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