Here are some things I told myself I would not say when I got older.
1. I still feel like the same person inside that I was when I was twenty-one. I may look old, but I’m still young inside.
I remember my grandmother trying to explain that to me when I was a teenager, and no, I didn’t get it. I’d just think, No, you’re old. Now I find myself saying it, and my grandchildren look at me and I can tell they’re thinking something like, You were never young. That’s impossible. Still, I feel this urgency to convince them that what they see is not who I am inside.
2. To a child: You were just this big when I saw you last.
When people would say that to me I never really understood how they could know me if I didn’t remember them from Adam (or Eve) . By the way, I actually had an old family friend of my parents’ say something similar to this at my aunt’s birthday party. She said to me, “You’re all grown up!” I responded, “Well, ummm, yes, I’d say so.” I was fifty-nine.
3. When I was young I had to walk everywhere, or I had to …(take your pick.)
The old “and it was uphill both ways,” joke is right on target. I find myself trying to convince my grandchildren how bad we had it. The grandchildren don’t get it. They don’t relate to gym suits and how we’d have to wash and iron them each weekend. A couple of times I forgot mine on Monday mornings and I’d race back home to get it (uphill, of course.) Gym class was like boot camp. School was a lot harder back then. I know it was.
4. I remember when (fill in the blank) first came out ( or was first invented.)
For my grandmother it was cars; for me it was televisions, then colored televisions, and more recently, of course, computers and cell phones. The response to a statement like this is going to be, That proves it. You’re as old as dirt.
5. I’m having trouble with my ……….(a particular part of the body, say the right shoulder.)
I used to think it was really boring to hear about older people’s health issues. Now I really want to hear about such problems and I relate and empathize. But that’s now.
6. To a child, as I am holding my thumb between my fingers: Look, I’ve got your nose!
How dumb do you think I am? I clearly remember thinking when an adult would say this. Then I actually found myself doing this the other day. I couldn’t believe it. It was like I felt compelled to reach for this child’s nose and pretend I was holding it between my fingers. It was like I thought it was expected of me. Well, the little girl just kind of half-smiled and said something like, “That’s a really old joke.” She was right.
7. Yes, well, my children all have Phd’s and my grandchildren always win state in reflections etc. etc. etc.
You get the picture. Brag! brag! And you’re right. Now I do it. But hey, did I tell you my daughter . . . And did I tell you my grandson . . . It’s just that it’s so astounding when our offspring do things we wouldn’t have even dreamed of being able to do—things like participate in sports or “get” science. I have daughters and granddaughters who get up on stages and then actually do something after they are up there. I even have children and grandchildren who dare to get on ski lifts or who dive right from diving boards into water. They don’t even hold their noses. How can I not brag about that?
8. When my daughter (or son) was little she/he did (or said) this or this……(and you tell a cute little story possibly in baby talk while the grown up person is sitting right there.)
I find it embarrassing when my mother repeats the cute little things I said when I was three or four. First of all I spoke in Dutch and nobody can understand it, so she tries to translate it and it makes no sense. Secondly, it was zillions of years ago. And so you would think I would not bring up what my son said after he’d played soccer a couple of games. He is after all, thirty-three now, not three. I still continue to tell it, and he groans, “Oh noooo, not this again.”
But if you want to hear the story, let me know! I can message it to you!
And that’s all I can think of right now. Actually, I should mention one more. It’s that I told myself I wouldn’t keep repeating old stories. I have the distinct feeling I do that as well. Maybe it’s because at our Sunday dinners, whenever I say, “Have I told you the story about . . .” My children call out in unison, “Yes!”