I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I know why old people stare at young people.
In this day and age, it’s not supposed to be appropriate. But listen, old folks mean no harm. They are only staring because they marvel at the miracle of youth. They stare because it was only a few years ago that they themselves were as young as you.
As you can see, I’m trying not to lump myself in with the “they” bunch above, but I’m afraid I must. If I’m not considered old by the standards of others, I’m on the threshold.
I did a lot of thinking about it this weekend.
We pulled out some old Halloween photos and I sat and, um, stared at my 30-year-old self. Stronger jawline, non-flabby neck, smooth face without laugh lines, forehead lines or crow’s feet. Thin. Running around keeping up with toddlers. Struggling to make ends meet. Enjoying life. Eating whatever I wanted and not gaining weight. I could go on and on.
I have often wondered what it would be like to have a conversation with my younger self. Ever done that? Do you think your mindset has changed much from 20 years ago?
We were walking around the house, laughing about how spots in the house have changed as we’ve aged. The basket on the end of the kitchen counter that used to contain kids vitamins now contains various pills for aging parents. I laughed a little as I took my heartburn medication.
I looked at the photo of our first born in his first Halloween costume: a little scarecrow. We were anxious about making it around to all the relatives and friends houses and getting back home in time for his bedtime. To keep him on schedule. I should also mention the little scarecrow will graduate from college in May. But I digress.
This Halloween, as we still have a youngster in our midst, we spent time negotiating on how many houses we’d go to and how we could all keep warm. And we were really only worried about our own bedtime this time; not hers so much.
We used to eat our kids’ Halloween candy, especially when they were very little and didn’t mind. Now, we avoid too much sugar and dessert because it makes our joints ache and gives us a stomach ache.
Even the nightstand has changed appearances.
There used to be things like loose change and maybe a random toy or two on the nightstand. Now, a box of those nose strips to help with snoring is prominently placed beside our wedding picture. And I no longer have any loose change and get excited when I find a quarter in my pocket.
Our fridge still has drawings and little poems on display with magnets, but next to those drawings are financial aid reminders and a little card with information from the Teachers Retirement System.
Excitement a few years ago used to be a night out with friends, staying out until the wee hours of the evening and having a great time. Although that’s still a lot of fun, evenings usually wrap up by 10 p.m. and if we stay up past 11, we think we’re living on the wild side.
I realized that my excitement last week – at least one of the excitements of the week – was finding a bargain pack of eyeglasses at the department store. I even called two friends to tell them about it.
So, young folks, please disregard us when we stare. We aren’t weirdos. Perhaps we are imagining ourselves at your age. Perhaps we are realizing how it seems like yesterday people were saying things like “it will go by quickly” and “they grow up fast” and “enjoy it while you’re young.”
I can tell you being older is NOT gloom and doom or a negative thing. There are many good things about it. However, you can’t avoid thinking a little about being younger once in a while.
By the way, let me know if you see a sale on those nose strips. They are a tad expensive.