By Phumla Mkize
Johannesburg – Some turned 21 this month, others were born, some were conceived, some are pregnant and, sadly, others died. It is the circle of life.
This is a special kind of generation; I mean the once-in-a-lifetime sort. Ama2000, from the ones that turned 17 days old today to those who will be one, two, six, 13, 16, 18 and 21; they are a fascinating bunch.
They do not get any more interesting than those who are learning to read.
Lockdown is exposing all kinds of challenges that plague society. A mother, with her seven-year-old in tow, wishes the ground would open and swallow her. The queue into the supermarket is long, winding past the locked liquor store with the glass display covered with the shop’s alcohol catalogue.
The boy busies himself identifying his mother’s favourite tipples. With each familiar image he excitedly points out “you like this one, mommy” – “and this one”. Thanks to social distancing, the wearing of masks and no physical contact, there is no need to acknowledge any child by smiling, squeezing their cheeks and saying nice things.
This is the generation of poker faces; they look you straight in the eye when you make small talk that only children born before 2000 understand. Imagine saying “hello, nana” only for the child to turn to the mother and ask: “What is she saying?” My heart goes out to those who are raising teenagers at this difficult time.
It can be so frustrating to help them realise how privileged they are given the amount of space and entertainment options some of them have at home.
Have you ever tried to emphasise the importance of gratitude to a 16-year-old who has just told you, “I’m bored”, because he has not left the house in a week?
Spare a thought for the woman who calls her man by his clan names, never uttering his first name even when angered.
But the young adults in the ama2000 category have the audacity to send him to the bar to exchange a cooler for a cider – or to ask him to order the waiter to bring more ice.
This is a man who has a dedicated armchair in his home. Once in this chair, a bowl of warm soapy water greets him as a freshly washed dish towel dangles on the wrist of the woman that waits to serve him dinner no matter the time of night – or day.
It is hard to imagine that it is the same man that a 21-year-old can send on a beverage errand, and worst of all call him Jay (short for Jabulani). Thanks to the lockdown, the poor woman now serves supper at no later than 7pm – and she can be in bed by 9pm if she so wishes.
It is not only men who are humbled by ama2000. Some women have spent a small fortune trying to keep up with lads who call them “baby”, never mind the huge age gap between them.
The hysteria that ensures when “baby” does not answer his phone after borrowing her fancy car to run a quick errand keeps the staff working at car-tracking companies motivated.
And we are just 21 years into this millennium. Ever wonder what the next century will be like? What will a column about those born in 3000 to 3021 be about?
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