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Friday, March 19, 2010

Octogenarian

If you want to instantly lower your self esteem, ask a kid under six how old they think you are.

While in college I taught Spanish to elementary school kids. In one of the first units of the semester we'd learn the numbers. To help them practice, I'd go around and ask the kids questions that had number answers. Questions like, "how many fingers do you have?" And "how old are you?" They would inevitably take the opportunity to ask me how old I was too and being the masochist that I am, I'd tell them to guess.

Their answers would go something like this:

Eight?
No.

Ten?
No.

One hundred?
No!

75?
We're done.

I was reminded of this yesterday during a conversation with a four year old daughter of a friend. When I walked into their house she and I started talking and she started in on the age question. But she took a different route:

4 yr old (4yo): Are you old?
Me: Yes....I suppose so.
4yo: Are you a grandma?
Me: What? No!
4yo: Do you still have your kids?
Me: (Thinking: still?) I don't have any kids.

Silence.

4yo: Oh.

I learned two things from this conversation. One: I could have passed for a grandma, and two: it's unacceptable to small kids that I (still) don't have any kids. With the Spanish students, I could tell myself that they just had no concept of age. But with this little girl, she just came right out with "are you a grandma?"!

It might help if I didn't dye my hair blue-ish purple and use a walker, but one step at a time. Anyone know a good place to get botox injections?

19 comments:

Mary Burnette said...

I just love it when I'm talking to my own children and they describe someone as being really old and I ask how old the person is.....it usually gets pretty quiet when they realize they are my age or younger.

Sarah said...

Oh man, didn't you do an anti-botox post within the year? I, myself, just started buying anti-wrinkle moisturizers and being really aware of my crinkled forehead. :(

The Boob Nazi said...

A little kid told me I was too young to be married.. It was wonderful.

Polly Anna said...

When Brian was teaching the 11year olds in primary I came in to help once, and they asked us if our kids had grown up and moved out of the house. I thought this was a ridiculous question. I just figured these kids didn't understand age or numbers or were just really stupid. Kids just don't know what they are talking about. They've learned a certain pattern for life and they try to use the schema that they have to figure out why people aren't fitting into the family framework they know. They have no concept of nuance to that pattern of life. All women and mommies and all men daddies and frankly a lot of people encourage that sort of thought it kids. So, clearly to them two married people w/o kids must have had theirs grow up and leave already. And a single person is a grandma or grandpa with good plastic surgery.

Kathy said...

This is how a recent conversation went with my 8 year old nephew:

Nephew: "How old are you?"

Me: "I'm kind of old (in a joking tone). Do you really want to know?"

Nephew: "Yeah!"

Me: "I'm 29. Old, huh?"

Nephew: "Yeah, that is old."

And then I desperately tried to stop the tears that were quickly filling my eyes.

Melanie said...

I was mentoring a 5th grader the other day and I started singing "Greased Lightning" [I sing that every time I 'get chills'] and she was like why are you singing such old music. Then I asked her how old she thought I was. She said "30" When I told her I was 23, she said "That's so old!" (and then she called me paranoid, but it is the best hour of my week! :) )

Sara said...

haha My niece started with the questions about why we don't have kids when she was about 4. I think it's a developmental thing. They are realizing adults are their own people, but yet they can't quite understand that adults might have other agendas besides meeting their needs. At this age, she also said that mommy's job was to shop and take care of her and daddy's job was to go to work. I tried explaining that women can have a job too and she didn't get it. She was puzzled by us - and still is like 5 years later!

Tiffany Aeschliman said...

I have the complete opposite problem. Which I understand will be nice at some point, but I'm Totally not there yet. I had a pretty interesting conversation with one of the little boys I baby-sit for, who was about 4 or 5 at the time. My younger sister, Ashley, had baby-sat for them earlier that week so I asked him if he liked her, and of course, if he liked her more than me. He said he liked us both the same, which is fine, but I noticed that he kept referring to her as my "Big" sister. Finally I explained to him that she was actually my younger sister, that she WAS bigger, but I was older. He thought about it for a few seconds then finally said: "No, she's not a little kid like us." It WAS kinda cute I will admit, but still. I'm sure I Will appreciate it someday, but until waiters stop asking me if I want a coloring book and a kids menu, secretaries at the Dr. office stop asking me if I want a sticker for being "Such a good patient!", and ESPECIALLY until 10yr old boys AREN'T the only ones who hit on me, it's just annoying. :-/

Where to go from HERE said...

I teach Junior Worship at church quit often and I am either thought to only be a teenager (cause of my behavior they always say) or a grandpa (cause I like dying my hair grey and use a cane). Never do they guess my age either. This blog was again having me actually LOL. Hope you are doing well.

David and Linda said...

I think it's mostly your sensible shoes. :) Last Sunday the chorister for the children's singing time asked the kids to write how hold they thought she was when they were called up to pick a song to sing (it was her birthday). Some were close. One boy thought he'd be funny by writing a reasonable number on the board and then putting a 9 in front of it. But the one who made me laugh the most drew the sign for infinity on the board. His mother took him to task, but I thought it was funny. You're always asking for it when you ask kids to guess how old you are.

Elizabeth Downie said...

You guys crack me up! Tiffany, you're the only one here who gets mistaken for being younger than you are - lol! Too funny. And it could be true that I get mistaken for being older because of my sensible shoes - haha.

Katherine said...

I take comfort that people my age and older usually think that I'm younger than I am... Kids are funny when they are trying to guess an adult's age, though. :) And that conversation with the 4 year-old is hilarious!! You might want to lay off the blue hair. And maybe exchange the walker for a jaunty cane?

Anonymous said...

You could count your blessings E, for example you don't get hit on by a 13 year old boy while you are rafting down the river to Lake Michigan....sound familiar Katherine?

Katherine said...

HEY!! That's all I have to say about that.

Elizabeth Downie said...

Katherine, don't fight it. In five years, you guys can revisit your summer romance.

Katherine said...

Um, ew.

Heather said...

oh my gosh, whoever Anonymous is is hi-larious.

Kat- maybe we can work on a poem you can write for him this summer.

E- I was pulling out of CVS and called some annoying kids "Teeny-boppers". Does that make me old?
P.S: Paige is always talking about how pretty you are.

Elizabeth Downie said...

Aw, Heedj that's so sweet. She's such a cutie. And I'm going take that as her not thinking I look like an 80 yr old grandma. lol

Melissa C said...

How funny! I will never forget when I was teaching Primary to the sunbeams years ago and one of them couldn't undestand the concept that I was married, and not a mom. It went like this:
Abby- are you married?
Me- yes
Abby, so you are a mom?
Me- No
She had this super confused look on her face about why on earth was I married without any children, and my coteacher had to step in. Honestly, that class nearly kept me from having children! Ryan had to convince me that it was biologically impossible to have 10 3 year olds at the same time. Thank goodness Octomom wasn't around yet, because even 8 of those Sunbeams would have been too dangerous of a thought for me to comprehend!