Acting Your Age

baby-dressed-in-granny-wig“Act your age” grownups were always saying to us when we were kids. I recall vividly one time I heard it. It was the time my big sister Nan flipped me onto my back, straddled me, pinned my arms out to either side and began ever so slowly lowering a long string of spit down from her mouth toward my screaming face.

That’s when our mom suddenly loomed in the doorway and boy, did Nan get it then. “Here you are almost 20 and acting like this!” she shouted by way of winding up her tirade.

In fact Nan was all of 12 at the time. And she was acting her age. Sort of. Certainly the 12-year-old boys we knew were doing this kind of thing to each other all the time

Whether or not Nan ever did heed the command to act her age, I know I could never quite seem to. I say this because when I was 14 I acted like I was 40, probably as direct result of the sad thing happened in our family that year. All I really know is that within a month of this terrible detonation I had changed completely from a carefree self-involved 9th grader to someone who had committing herself to a habit of over-functioning that lasted for more than 50 years.

Give you an example: Every Thursday night in my early 30s I would leave the house to tutor some young people in English. I would get them started on their essays, tear over to choir practice at the church just across the street, then tear 90 minutes later to work with the young people for another 90 minutes. I thought I could add in anything, help anyone, transport some ride-needing youth clear across the state and still be back in time to make the supper. Of course I could! I’d just need to get up a little earlier in the morning.

I might have gone on like this indefinitely if the year 2016 had not offered me some surprises.

First, I broke a bone in my back by running around the edge of the swimming pool to get to a shivering grandchild. Then, six months later, I tore my biceps tendon by lunging for the ladder of a dock while attempting to leap jauntily from a moving swim raft. And just last week I twisted my fists into my eyes, causing one of my contact lens to fold in two and shoot up into my head, where it remained for four excruciating days and causing a painful infection that had me just about blinded for almost week.
But what did I expect, knuckling my eyes so childishly? And trying to stretch like Gumby between a moving swim raft and a stationary ladder? What did I think would happen when I ran around an indoor pool past no fewer than four big signs that read “NO RUNNING“?

It’s a mystery to me. At 14 and all through my teen years I behaved as if I were 40. Now in my 60s I’ve been behaving as if I were ten. Will I ever come to understand how old I really am and start acting accordingly? Check in on me when I’m 90. If you find me in long sable curls and my bell-bottoms from the 70s, take me aside and counsel a wiser course.

PS. Of course I did also fall into the lake when I practically yanked my arm out of its socket reaching for that ladder – and that reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from On Golden Pond. Enjoy!




6 thoughts on “Acting Your Age

  1. When I’m in my 90’s if I feel like wearing bell-bottoms – and I can find any – I will wear them. Why not? I’ll be in my 90’s!!! Woohoo.

  2. I find that many of my male friends and former patients have a syndrome which can best be described as “I got away with it before and thought that I could do it again!” It usually involves some physical activity done in one’s youth for whatever reason; to show off, to prove one’s self to others, to make a statement, etc. which now however makes no sense at all. They cannot not either physically nor mentally do the task that they set out for themselves and end up in a disaster. One of my veterans from a group came into a session one day and told this story. When he was younger, he was a fine finished carpenter, but as he had gotten older, several physical maladies had gotten the better of him. He undertook projects which he had no business trying. He wanted to do a major home repair project and so he cut the wood, measured the project and began to cut. After cutting, he took a nail gun to hold the pieces of board together. His hands were unsteady and the surface on which he was working were both uneven and unstable, but that didn’t deter my buddy. He opened fire with the .22 caliber nail gun and put two nails into his right foot, securely nailing it to the floor. He then tried to put the gun down and get the nails out, but in doing so, placed his left hand on his work table and fired again, nailing his left hand to the table! He now had the right foot and left hand securely tacked in place and cried for help. The fire department arrived, first cutting up the table with a chain saw and then freeing his foot to the floor. Off to the E.R. He proudly presented the group with copies of the foot x-ray with the two nails attached. One group member looked at me and said “Do something!”

    No one is immune to this. In recent years, a broken finger, a severely sprained ankle, a fall in the garden in hot pursuit of an illusive grandson and a chipped tooth have done me in… “Well, I did it before…” Just be sure that you insurances are paid up!

    1. Bill this is an amazing and terrible story, second only to the one I heard from a ER doc who described how one amorous fellow, who, attempting to leap onto the four-poster bed in the old inn he and his girlfriend had chosen for the assignation impaled himself on one of the posts. His outcome was not so good.
      But can I quote this on a follow-up blog post? If so let me know by messaging me here on Facebook, how you would like to be described. No need to use your name unless you want to be named. 🙂 You are so right. Two of the three times here I was trying to be the fun grandma. Condolence for all YOUR injuries!

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