Throughout my journey as a journalist there have been a few benevolent people who have complimented me on my command of the English language.
Some kind souls have even referred to me as a wordsmith.
However, any illusions that I may have harboured about myself in that regard were shattered to pieces last Saturday by none other than my 14-year-old granddaughter.
She talks the talk. The teen talk.
And I found our communication wires got all mixed up when I tried to span the generation gap between myself and this wonderful woman/child/granddaughter.
It started with the road trip to the big city where my lovely granddaughter was competing in a CHEER competition.
I was excited to be invited along. Three generations of women together on a road trip.
My granddaughter, her shiny dark blond hair gathered into a bouncy ponytail, climbed obligingly into the back seat.
Almost before we drove out of the driveway she asked her mom if grandma could be the disc jockey.
“No,” said her mom. “Grandma is an even worse disc jockey than me.”
I felt a little twinge of resentment at those words because I was sure I could be a great disc jockey if only I knew what to do.”
It turns out I didn’t. Apparently to be a disc jockey you had to turn the radio to the exact right volume depending on the song. It helped if you knew, not only the song, but also the group who were performing the song.
I discovered most times I knew neither.
It didn’t take me long to figure out a lot of these songs and/or groups that were being played didn’t get a lot of air time on CBC radio, which is usually my station of choice.
A song by Journey came on, which I discovered was a popular band in the ’80s when my daughter was a teenager. I didn’t even know that little bit of trivia and I found myself sinking into my seat in shame.
Finally, Insensitive, a song by Jan Arden came on.
“I know that song,” I said triumphantly, trying to redeem myself.
“Is that your jam, grandma?” my granddaughter asked.
“My what?” I said, thinking I had heard her incorrectly.
Jam is something I make in the summer, lining up the pint sized jars proudly on my kitchen counter. Jam is delicious on toast.
“No,” I retorted, indignantly. “It is not.”
My daughter explained gently to me that ‘jam’ in teen talk means ‘good’. It means ‘I love that song.’
Later my granddaughter said something about the party being a ‘bomb.’
Apparently ‘bomb’ means ‘great.’ The party was ‘great.’
I was quiet for the rest of the trip, mulling these new word meanings over in my mind.
I recalled something I read once that said communication is only 10 per cent verbal.
Somehow, I find that thought very comforting, even though I really do want to learn this new language, this teen talk.
But for now I think I’m just going to go and listen to some ’60s music.
And see if I can find my jam.
Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review. She lives in Sylvan Lake.