Happy Birthday! How old are you?

I’ve been thinking a lot about age lately.  Not “old age” but just age.  What people are like and what life is about at different ages.  I was at a party recently with very few people I knew.  I met many people, a couple of whom where about 18 months old, and I liked meeting those youngest ones– so open and welcoming of me, big smile my way, obviously happy to see me even though they’d never met me, ready to play and engage.  Right off the bat.  It’s obvious but still worth saying that it’s just very different with the adults in terms of openness and welcome and liveliness and it was so noticeable as I worked my way into that crowd of mostly people I didn’t know.

On Tuesday I was at my daughter’s basketball practice with a whole slew of 9 and 10 year old girls mostly.  Toward the end, the younger brother, age 3, of one of the girls arrived with his dad and he and I started in playing right away.  I didn’t know him and knew his dad only by sight.  But I just knew right away when he and I started to play, that he was three.  And I was right.  There’s just a certain way of being at three even though that boy was so uniquely himself.

Today is my mother’s 80th Birthday.  She is a different kind of person than whatever ageist images I have in my head of 80– in a completely good way, so that is her gift to me.  Happy Birthday back at you, Mom.  My sister and I have been working hard on plans for a party that we are giving for my mom in Chicago on Sunday, near where my mother lives.  My daughter and I are traveling today and I’ll get more time to reflect on age when I’m with her and with some of her long-time friends, many of whom are now 80 and older.

I’ve been solo mama for the past several days while my partner has been visiting her own mother.  My daughter and I have a rhythm all our own when it’s just the two of us and it works, it rocks even.  Yesterday she was just so, so tired and she asked and I let her stay home from school.  She is, to use a word that has only been invented very recently, a tween.  At about noon she was sitting in the living room in her pj’s and I was getting ready to work for a bit at the computer while she read.  I asked if there was anything she needed before I sat down and she said exactly the following to me;

“Mama, can you bring me that sparkly bunny and the books from my room about puberty?”

I guess “tween” really is a thing, at least in this capitalist culture with many stuffed animals and many books to teach you about puberty.  Age.  It’s an interesting thing to ponder.

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