Monday, February 8, 2010

Eek! The younger generation is aging.

You know you’re getting old when your hair stylist, who’s the same age as your daughter, tells you she can’t read fine print anymore. And that reminds you: Your daughter told you several weeks ago that she was forced to buy a pair of drugstore reading glasses. You’ve repressed it, until now.

Does it sometimes seem worse to admit your kids’ advanced ages than your own? I recall my mother, on one of my big birthdays, exclaiming “I can’t believe I have a daughter who’s 50!” I laughed then, but I won’t be laughing a few years from now.

Where did all that time go? We may feel older, but not that many years older. We’re looking out of the same eye sockets we looked through at 15, 25, 35, and hearing with the same ears. At this point, I have to quibble with my own statement. The eyes certainly aren’t what they used to be—for us or our adult kids—and the ears? Well, some of us turn up the TV volume now, and many, like me, hear a constant swishing sound. But still, it seems that decades have sped up and flown by, and we have a hard time believing that we’re those people we thought were really old back then.

This was the gist of conversations with my high school classmates at our “almost 50” reunion this past summer. (It was an “almost 50” because we went to school when Chicago had two enrollment periods: September and February. Our class graduated in January, but the organizers of our reunion wisely determined that few, if any, grads would travel to Chicago in winter—especially those who moved to warm climates just to get away from our cold, snowy season.)

When we got together that July evening, we were 18 again, remembering scene-by-scene the events that motivated our best gossip in our freshmen to senior years. As a contrast, we also bragged about our darling grandchildren—some of them now teenagers themselves. So I’m wondering why it’s easy to acknowledge that you’ve been out of high school nearly 50 years and you have grandchildren but hard to think about having middle-aged children.

So now that our children are aging, will they be a little more empathetic about the things we complain about? Will they understand a little more why we say and do the things we do? Yeah, right.