I am younger then by the same amount of time it takes a foetus to reach term, if that stands to reason. There is a gestation period of difference between my husband and I. His parents wouldn’t have even known that they were going to give birth to their first child, a son, the day I was born. So while I was taking my first breaths of air he was still sucking on amniotic fluid. He was growing downy hair all over his body when I moved onto solid foods. By the time he was born, I was on the move; wearing out the knees of my romper suits and collecting lint and hair off the floor.
When we’re young it’s all about the milestones and birthdays. Cheers ring out and hands are clapped in delight as a baby or toddler manages to learn a new concept, skill or ability.
As we get older those milestones are more about the number attached to us. We carry that sucker around like an extra appendage. Some lie while others are creative with subtraction. For many it’s a matter of remaining young at heart-it’s the inside that counts, after all.
At a visit to the doctor with Now 6 when he was a 3 year old, an elderly gentlemen sat down beside us. He must have been close to his octogenarian decade but seemed to have retained most of his faculties. He took an interest in the scribble drawing my son was doing and then said to me, ‘that’s a fine looking grandson you have there.’ I do remember mumbling a reply about him being my son as my heart only just managed to regain a regular rhythm. It was fortunate we were at the doctors as I was certain a heart attack was imminent. Perhaps he was there to see the doctor about finally getting a prescription for glasses.
Several weeks ago, I had an informal meeting with the principal at Now 6’s school. I was being scrutinised to see whether I would be an appropriate replacement for the German teacher when she takes leave in the Spring. My experience was asked about and when I answered the question I included the year that I first began teaching. I was met with raised eyebrows and an audible ‘wow’. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve hung around 5 year olds for nearly half my life that has kept me young. Hmmmm.
When I met with the teacher whose role I will be filling she kindly concurred about the difference between my chronological age and my perceived age. (Note to readers: I have known this teacher since 1999 when I taught her son who is now 26 and we have kept in contact since then). Apparently I am thinner now even though I’ve been the same weight since high school, except during pregnancies, and have given birth twice since then. I don’t have a forehead full of Botox and on a good day I feel every one of my near-40 years. This ‘holding my age well’ card might come in handy if I ever have the need to chat up some young gents at the R.S.L. I could fill the role of a 60 year old cougar to get a free shandy or two.
If I had to categorise myself, I am one of those people who find it to be a difficult and dicey situation when someone asks me how old I think they are. Think of a number and subtract 15? That should cover all bases. When I’m asked how old I am, particularly by cheeky students who haven’t learned the unwritten code of conduct for someone who wants an ‘A’ this semester, my generic responses include:
‘How old are you?’ -answering a question with a question sometimes deflects the inquirer.
‘How old do you think I am?’ -see above.
‘Old enough to be your mother.’ – which normally puts them back in their box.
The time will come soon enough where my final response will have to change to Grandmother.
So herein lies the question. Does it matter what’s written on your birth certificate or what others think? How do you tackle the age old questions, ‘how old are you’ or ‘how old do you think I am?’ Have you ever done creative number crunching, turned 21 for fifteen years in a row or had someone overestimate your age by a whole generation?
Image from: here.