Notes from a fossil mom

It’s never too late to learn, right? As the twins are growing I am trying hard (and failing much too often) to keep up with their ever-evolving lives and the crazily unfolding vocabulary. Each day brings with it a new learning.

Gen Z talk is at once puzzling and fascinating. And so, here I am, sharing some of my newly acquired knowledge. If you’re a parent of a teen struggling to understand their offspring, you will find this useful.

Even if you’re not, you might as well read through, because teen-vocab is rather infectious and one of these days, you might just find yourself floundering.

First up, let’s talk fandom

Last month, we sat chatting about Pathan, and of course, SRK came up as did my undying love for the dimpled man. I’ve been a fan for more than two decades, I declared proudly. However, all of that loyalty apparently counts for nothing.

Gen Z has taken fandom to the next level with entire Armies (pun intended) dedicated to their music Gods.

A fan isn’t fan enough, N explained patiently. A true fan must be a STAN – A Stalker Fan. He must:
– follow them on Insta (not Facebook, that’s so ‘Aunty’)
– love their stories
– watch every interview and talk show till one knows them all by heart
– then watch shorts and reels for good measure
– and also, respond feverishly to their #Askmeanything on Twitter

One must know their reel/real love interests so one can ‘SHIP’ them. That’s being a fan of two people together in a relationship. So you SHIP Kajol and SRK. Got it?

And if like me, you’re cringing at this idea of Darr-like stalking, bro, you need to loosen up because there’s a whole bunch of not-so-good words that have had a makeover.

You SLAY if you take trouble with your appearance and you KILL IT if you study well for your exams.

Oh and also, there’s SICK. Which, to me means a sandpaper throat, a clogged nose and sneezing fits or something in that vein. Not so for Gen Z. When the daughter described the new song by her favourite band as SICK, I had to reach out to the Urban Dictionary, which said:

‘Used by CHAVS to state that something is good.’

So then obviously I had to google CHAV: a young person characterised by coarse and brash behaviour.

I’m still trying to understand if being a Chav is a good thing or not but you see the rabbit holes I have to dig my way out of?

TEA time tales

When your daughter enters the house and says ‘I’VE GOT TEA’ and you begin to congratulate yourself on your upbringing, that has finally rang laoed and prompted her to get you a hot cuppa (without even asking for it), but then she doesn’t make her way to the kitchen but sprawls down beside you readying for a chat, don’t be puzzled.

‘I’VE GOT TEA’ in Gen Z speak means ‘I’ve got gossip to share’. When I hear her friends say, ‘Quick, spill the tea’ I no longer rush in with a mop cloth wondering at this new madness.


Just as I was getting used to RAD – as in something radical, different, in a nice way (I think) she springs on me a RIZZ – as in KaRIZZma. The editor in me shrivelled up and died right there. 

It’s enough to know that if someone says, ‘She’s got RIZZ’ it’s a good thing.

The new age dictionary defines it as something a little different but I’m happy with the daughter’s tamer version.

And then, One Day

H and N had to go for a birthday party. It was more a social invitation than a friendly one and they thought they were too old for it. They stood around complaining and procrastinating but I was firm that they make an appearance at the do.

‘What do we even say? What do we talk about?’ whined H.

‘Well, he is from your school so you can talk about that,’ I said, ‘Say dude, how’re your studies going?’ I explained, in what I thought was a fair imitation of how young people spoke.


The children recoiled as if I’d hurt them physically. ‘Ew ew ew. Mama stop. That’s just cringe, Ew Ew! They shuddered, plugging their ears.

Apparently, no one, no one at all, says ‘dude’ now. It’s ‘Bruh’ (not even bro). And absolutely NO ONE talks about studies.

Lesson learnt!

The trouble is, by the time I familiarise myself with one set of words the next set is already old and dead, which is why you might want to use the contents of this post with extreme caution.

Here are some more quick ones I’ve gathered along the way:

  • The commonest one is W/L – win/lose.
    So if you’ve had a good day or a good meal or a good interaction you say, It’s a W.
  • If a place is just average in a lower-than-expectations kind of way, it’s MID.
  • If someone asks you to go TOUCH SOME GRASS it means you need to step out and get some fresh air.
  • CHAD means someone cool.
  • A SIGMA MALE is an evolved male (a good thing), unlike his more primitive ALPHA ancestor.
  • You can have your MAIN CHARACTER MOMENT when, for a short time, you become the leading lady/man. It’s complicated. It can be when you’re the centre of attraction at a party or even when you’re looking out of the bus window lost in thought, or immersed in a book – Basically, a point in time when no one else matters, when everyone else is a ‘supporting character’ in that moment.

Exhausting, isn’t it?

Does any of this sound familiar? At all? Or is this normal talk for you?

12 Replies to “Notes from a fossil mom”

  1. I am both laughing out loud at this post and crying with empathy because this is EXACTLY my situation When she first came to me and said, ‘I have some tea’, you should have seen my bewildered expression! Oh and don’t get me started on abbreviations!

    WYA is ‘Where you at’, apparently which I managed to decipher successfully once. As for the others, I need to keep a diary to keep track!

    1. Uff, I hear you. So hard to figure out the weird short forms. There’s no logic to it, believe me I tried to figure it out. No use.

  2. So, I checked with my teen and he knows them all. I asked him how is that he keeps up to date with the latest vocab. He just smiled. Many in this list are pretty new for me. Keep updating the list, Tulika. I want to surprise my boy once in a while. 🙂
    Vinitha recently put up this amazing post…FICTION MONDAY – 141My Profile

  3. Ah! You helped me update my knowledge of this! I don’t think our generation was quite as creative as this one. It’s really like another language!
    Corinne recently put up this amazing post…86400 SecondsMy Profile

  4. Thanks for enlightening me. My teen also uses weird lingo that I can’t figure out. But your twins are way ahead. I will bookmark this post for ready reference whenever I am stuck with a new gen Z word.
    Balaka Basu recently put up this amazing post…WOTY: GROWMy Profile

  5. Loved loved loved this post, Tulika! Been there, so I know how that feels!!
    Teen lingo can be shocking but also funny, and it keeps changing so much—wonder how moms like you and me can ever keep up with that!!
    It’s also interesting to observe how the teens feel almost invincible, as they unleash their “new-found” power on us, parents, through their words, while we look aghast!! I smile and often think—this too is a phase of life, and this too shall pass. We can see that. They cannot.

    1. I don’t even attempt to keep up with the lingo and frankly, I don’t mind it. I kind of enjoy their weirdness, just as they (hopefully) enjoy and laugh at mine.

  6. Uh oh! I hadn’t heard a single word of the Gen Z lingo. Erm, is lingo outdated? If yes, what’s its latest avatar? Does avatar make sense? Do I make sense?
    Your post makes me feel like I am 100 years old, or I could call myself extinct! 😛
    My god, Tulika, how do you go about your day without losing your mind? I think I need to go and touch some grass to get my mind back in order. Hehehe…
    Loved your post, Tulika!
    Hey, did we have such a vocab back when we were in our teens? I can’t remember my mother all puzzled when listening to my talk.

    1. Nope I can’t remember my mom being confused either. We would have probably got a stern ‘Speak properly!’ with a whack thrown in for good measure had we tried to speak shorthand.

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