Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Those Crazy Kids

Multi-generational picture from 1946.Image by megnut via FlickrWhen I was in my teen-aged years and I referred to "kids," I was referring to little tykes, who were still losing baby teeth that would be rewarded with Tooth Fairy money.

In my late twenties, I worked in elder care. Most of my clients referred to me as a "kid." I was highly insulted. I was not a "kid;" I was a young adult. I had a college education. I considered myself to be quite worldly.

Once I had children of my own, my personal definition of "kids" spanned from infant to the tween years. I didn't quite consider "teens" to be kids, because I was still smarting from being called a "kid" at twenty-seven. And, also, teens didn't seem to quite fit the bill for being a kid. "Kids" were dependent, trainable, happy-to-be-around-their-parents sorts of people. Teens were moody, cocky and mumbled a lot. In many ways, I forgot I had ever been a teenager myself.

Now, in my VERY early forties (in fact, I would say much closer to thirties, really), I realize that I was ever so naive to believe I was worldly at twenty. HA. It was like saying that because I had been to a rodeo, I was a champion bull rider.

I also have come face-to-face with all my transgressions and accomplishments as a teenager, because my children who are teens themselves have started delving into my personal history:

"Mom, when you were my age, did your mom make you clean the bathroom?" Why, yes she did.

Of course some of their questions definitely show the technological and social leaps and bounds that have occurred since I was their age.

"Mom, did your mom let you play with your iPod in bed before you went to sleep?"


"Why not?"

"Because we didn't have iPods."

"Seriously? What did you DO???"

"Well, I listened to my cassette tapes and read books."

"Oh, that's awful. I'm so sorry."

Certainly my definition of "kids" has changed, too. Now I DO include teenagers. In fact, I now include those younger twenties people who believe themselves (as I did) to be worldly because they have a checking account and don't live at home any more.

I am amused at myself as I see me shift from one side to the other. I was once on the side that believed anything after twenty-five was dead. Now I don't rule out anything under 100.

I am firmly in the middle of "middle aged," though I prefer to see the glass as half-full, instead of half-empty. But I'm also realistic enough to know that I am too old to wear teen aged fashions, and (thankfully) too young to qualify for AARP discounts.

I am also at an age where I appreciate being carded for drinks, having the doctor say, "you don't need to worry about that yet," and having older people lump me in with "kids." I guess it's all just perspective.

My grandmother turns ninety-five today. When I'm my parents' age, she'll be the kind of person I want to hang around every so often, just so I can be called a "kid" again.

Happy Birthday, Ooma, to the youngest ninety-five year old "kids" I've ever known!
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