Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Generation gap

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about some universal truths common in all the cultures I have experienced. I did not write about one of the most basic personal dynamics that is most certainly a universal experience of people everywhere..... the generation gap.

Glorious quietness is suddenly shattered by a blood-curdling scream that is overpowered by an explosion of Georgian/Abkhaz/Mingrelian mixed in an incomprehensible string of who-knows-what. "Our Grandmother" and Elene are at it again. Can an 80-year-old and a 7-year-old see eye-to-eye? I'm not sure they can.

Elene is a normal 7-year-old: curious, playful, and noisy. "Our Grandmother" is a normal 80-year-old: she wants peace and quiet.... and can be a little crotchety at times. There is nothing that Elene does that makes "Our Grandmother" happy, and nothing that "Our Grandmother" does is right for Elene. Watching them interact is like watching a session of Congress debate a bill..... impossibly disagreeable. If Elene runs around the house, yells of disapproval come bellowing out of "Our Grandmother." If "Our Grandmother" doesn't move out of the way, the same yells of disapproval come bellowing out of Elene. Well, almost the same -- maybe an octave higher. If they are both in the house, one is usually pointing out some fault of the other's. It's tiresome and entertaining all at the same time.

One day we were sitting in the kitchen, Elene, "Our Grandmother," Tea, and I; and Elene had done something that "Our Grandmother" didn't like. Following her usual tirade poured out in Elene's direction, she commented that Elene is just like she was when she was young. As she said this, she sat there musing, her deep-set, blue eyes lit up out of the shadow of her head-scarf with the residual fire that burned hot and fast from her youth. At 80, she is still feisty and opinionated -- I can imagine how irascible she was back in her younger days.

What is it about the young and the old that makes them so diametrically opposed to one another? The difference in noise-level preference? The difference in priorities? The difference in speed? Or maybe the difference in perspective? I don't know. Maybe their conflict stems from a combination of all of these reasons. What I do know -- there is a figurative chasm between the old and the young. 

To their credit, Elene and "Our Grandmother" get along when they are doing two things: when "Our Grandmother" calls out math problems for Elene to practice, and when they are perched on their respective chairs in the kitchen enveloped in the Georgian-dubbed Mexican telenovelas.

Viva la revolucion!

No comments:

Post a Comment