Who Says You Have to Act Your Age?

Good morning, and happy Halloween! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Today is a special day for kids around the world. Okay, not just kids, but those of us who still miss the innocence of youth. The traditions are different in various parts of the world, but here in the United States, kids will dress up as their favorite super-hero, princess, villain, or spook, and go around door-to-door with a bag for us old folks to fill up with candy. Why can’t we do that for cash?

Every year, there seems to be a debate over when a kid is “too old” for Halloween. Along with every group of young children dressed up in their favorite costume, there will be one or two teenagers dressed in the clothes they wore to school, holding out a bag without saying a word. And you know what? They get candy, too. If it makes them happy and keeps them out of trouble, why not?

If you can’t enjoy the fact that they’re trying to hang onto their youth just a little longer, look at it from another perspective. The conversation goes something like this:

“Trick or Treat.”

“Aren’t you a little old for this? You’re not even wearing a costume.”

“Yes I am.”

“What are you supposed to be?”

“A juvenile delinquent. Nice place you’ve got here. Is that your car?”

Is that the conversation you want to be thinking about right before you fall asleep? I find it a lot more relaxing (and reassuring) to just enjoy the evening and everybody who comes by. Besides, you never know when one of those teenagers may be the one that comes by a month from now and offers to shovel the snow off your sidewalks.

About a month ago, before I had injections in my lower back, I had to use a cane to get around. Not for stability, but to bear weight. One day after work, as I was getting out of the car with the cane in one hand and my lunchbox and laptop in the other, a teenage boy walking down the other side of the street asked if I needed any help. This from what some people like to refer to as the “me” generation.

But that’s a story for another day. My point today is that it’s easy to look at other people and decide for ourselves whether they’re too young or too old for whatever they’re doing. Okay, too young may be more a matter of practicality than opinion. My youngest grandson would love to drive my car, but it’s safe to say he won’t be doing that any time soon.

But on the other end of the spectrum, we have people who are too old for whatever we deem fit. “Why don’t you act your age?” How many times have you heard that one? How many times have you said it? Whether it’s playing silly games as a third-grader, trick-or-treating as a teenager, or getting your ears pierced at the age of 50, people love to impose their own standards of what’s appropriate at a given age.

So, here’s the question – who decides what’s appropriate and at what age? Is there a book somewhere that I haven’t read? Was it part of the birds and bees talk that my dad conveniently skipped? Did they teach it in church when I was out of town? Seems it would help if they’d at least publish it in the newspaper once a year.

The reality is, you’re never too old for anything you can still enjoy. Period. And the moment you buy into the thinking that you’re too old, you immediately begin aging at a much faster rate. And we all know what’s on the other end of aging. So, why are we in such a hurry to speed it up? Worse yet, why are we so adamant about imposing monotony on people who are still trying to enjoy life?

There’s a time to act our age, to be certain. At work, they appreciate my sense of humor as long as I can mix it with the appropriate amount of professionalism and still get the job done. My bank appreciates deposits in excess of my withdrawals. And the mortgage company appreciates a payment each month, even if there are a lot more fun things to do with that money.

But beyond that, what’s wrong with having a little fun along the way? As adults, most of us like to get away from the kids, meet some friends, and enjoy an evening of music and laughter (and maybe even a few “adult” beverages). We went to an Elton John concert several years ago, and let me tell you, old people still know how to rock! The look on the younger people’s faces was priceless.

Don’t be so quick to teach younger people that it’s not okay to act young. Let them enjoy it a few years longer. Adulthood is coming fast enough. This is their time. Help them make the most of it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Want Me to Act Whose Age?

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Today I’m taking what those of us at work commonly refer to as a “mental health day.” In other words, instead of going to a nice, quiet office and finishing up work that will certainly be waiting for me Monday morning, I’m spending the day with two preschoolers and their pre-teen cousin. Maybe my mental health is a little worse than I thought.

But I have to be honest, you can learn a lot by spending a few hours around young children. After a few hours you’ve pretty much learned enough for a day, but they don’t seem to wear down as fast as we do. Still, kids have got a grasp on life that adults seem to have lost, and I’m sure it’s what keeps them young. They don’t get old until they start spending too much time with us.

I wrote a piece several years ago titled, “Will You Please Stop Acting Your Age?” The premise was pretty simple. As parents, we often admonish our kids to act their age. It’s a rather ungratifying reaction to the immaturity and silliness of youth. You know, the predictable behavior that makes being young so special. Sometimes, “act your age” really means “act old, like me.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have people who have grown so old that they’ve forgotten what it was like to be young and have zero patience for anybody whose laughter disturbs their afternoon nap. Or their mid-morning nap, or any of the other naps they take all through the day. That also includes the times you wish they would take a nap, so they’d stop complaining. Good luck.

There have been times when I’ve caught myself acting older than I really am, if age is truly a factor in that. I’m not sure, because I see a lot of people nearly twice my age (I said nearly) who seem to have found a second youth that lights up their face like a full-day’s sunshine. So, who’s really acting their age and who’s just using age as an excuse?

I work with a small group of women who seemingly have an unnatural level of energy. They’re constantly off somewhere, exploring new destinations and enjoying the night life. Any time a volunteer opportunity arises, they’re the first to sign up. I doubt they ever spend a boring weekend sitting around the house, because there’s just too much to do. You know – like living.

Granted, two of them are about half my age but the other one has kids almost their age. Still, I was telling somebody yesterday that I don’t remember the last time I had that much energy and, even when I did, I didn’t put it to very good use. Once I had a place of my own to call home, that’s where I stayed. My wife would suggest outings, but I found a reason to pass on pretty much everything.

Now, all these years later, I would give anything to have the time and energy to do some of those things. I remember our last visit to Key West. We parked the car downtown every morning and spent the day on foot, visiting different museums, eating in different restaurants, taking a sunset cruise on an old clipper ship, sipping Pina Coladas by the pool … it was awesome.

I don’t know if I could keep up that pace for a day now. But you know what? I intend to find out. I don’t want to be one of those old people who sits around the hotel gazing down at the beach. I want to be out there where the action is, living every moment to its fullest. When my time on earth is done, I want the undertaker to say, “I tried everything, but I just can’t get that smile off his face.”

Age is simply a number. Granted, it’s a number that only goes so high before we have to hand over the keys and move on. But, for that very reason, it’s a number that should come with tons of memories and incredible stories, things that will make our great-grandchildren shake their head and say, “Wow!”

Acting our age may seem refined and dignified, and depending on the setting, it’s probably expected. But acting my age doesn’t mean I have to act old. It doesn’t mean I have to give up fun and laughter. And it doesn’t mean I can’t get down on the floor and sing silly songs with my little ones or take them on the tallest rollercoaster in the park. You know. When they’re old enough.

Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. You can enjoy life or sit around and complain about it. But remember, those little eyes are on you. If you want them to live a long, healthy, and vibrant life, show ‘em how it’s done!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved