I know I’ll grow old and I’m fine with that, sort of. What I want to avoid is getting old. Confused? There is a difference. Growing old is all part of your life-cycle; it’s inevitable. You body doesn’t have the same shape or react the same way but you have more free time, even if it’s just spent napping.
Getting old on the other hand has nothing to do your physical abilities. It can sometimes have nothing to do with your age, though many older people fall into the getting old trap.
People who are getting old are those who have quickly forgotten what it’s like to be young, to be a kid. I tend to notice these people more when I’m out with my kids, like at church today. Father was talking and yes you are supposed to be a good Catholic and listen quietly and attentively, but try telling that to a three-year-old. My daughter was pretending her fingers were people talking. It wasn’t loud but loud enough to disturb the ‘old’ woman sitting in front of us. How quietly would you sit while someone gave a speech on how calculus evolved. Not what father was talking about but the point is it’s hard for anyone to sit still and be interested when the topic isn’t of interest to you.
Old people seem to forget what it was like when they were young. Perhaps that part of their memory has eroded away. Along with the part that sensors the crazy things they say ‘I feel sorry for your son. If you don’t cut his hair he’s going to grow-up thinking he’s a girl.‘ Yes, we’ve had to deal with the ignorant side of those getting old too. And the part that stimulates logical thinking; why else would a person with a cane and the inability to move faster than a sloth decide to cross a busy street without using a cross walk.
I have to be careful though, I think I’ve noticed hints of growing old in myself. It usually comes out as impatience. My three-year-old wants to get herself dressed and her socks have to be perfect (seams lined up and everything). My son HAS to build the extra dungeon in his Lego fortress before coming down to dinner. Sometimes I find it hard to remember what it was like learning and practicing new skills or loving what you’re doing so much you just can’t stop. Or maybe it’s not that I’ve forgotten but rather I don’t think the skills my kids are learning (and I’ve mastered) or the activities that interest them (and not me) deserve the same consideration as my own new skills and interest. It’s hard enough getting through childhood without having people, including your mom, discourage or short-change what kids are doing. I think I need to work a little more on avoiding getting old. Hopefully my kids are patient enough with me while I learn.