Non-Regression Therapy

I did some practice with pronouns and the verb “to be” with my beginners today (that means: “I am . . ., she is . . ., you are . . .”, etc.) Little Billy told us “I am Billy. I am from Vienna. I am 10.” Paul told us his name and age (10), but since he didn’t know where he was born, he added “I am from . . .” and then he made a farting noise with his lips. Mimi had to ask me how to spell “Israel” and told us she is only 9. Then it was my turn. “I am C. I am from Wisconsin. I am 53.”

Geez did I ever feel old! I should have taken a cue from Paul, skipped the “53” and just made a farting noise.

Usually, my age or aging are not subjects that concern me much. I was never one to flip out over a round number birthday. In fact, I enjoyed a lot of them. Especially turning 30 was great – mostly because I began teaching at the university at 25 and at that time, it wasn’t unusual to have students older than that. (Now they are pushed to get through their free education as quickly as possible – back then there were a lot of students in their 7th, 8th, even 9th year of studies.) When I turned 30, I felt “There! NOW I am officially old enough to be doing this job.”

40 was pretty great too. You spend your 20s making all sorts of big decisions that will determine the course and direction of your life. You spend your 30s working working working to build that life up. In your 40s, you start to get a lot back from all those decisions and all that work. By then you pretty much know if you are on the right career path or in the right relationship. You still have a lot of work and maybe some opportunity ahead of you though. That is until you reach your 46th birthday and realize – “Okay, so I am probably starting the second half of my life now.”

My 46th birthday is the only one I remember sort of sucking.

The 50s are great again because you get a little . . . sedate. Things don’t easily throw you for a loop. You feel less like you have to prove yourself. When crappy stuff happens in the world, you can look back to some long previous event to relativize it. “Well, 9/11 was worse.” Or like my mom said after 9/11, “Well, the Cuban Missile Crisis was worse.”

Age is relative too. Having teenage daughters makes me younger than I am. My “new” job makes me 20something (though, maybe not today. Today I was positively ancient.) And blogging? Well, here I got even younger than that.

It was like being a Freshman attending WordPress High School, finding my way around and getting used to a new schedule. Trying to get accepted by the cool crowd. Worrying about being liked. Striving to be popular and have followers. Gotta watch what I say – being too wordy is the blogging equivalent of being fat. Views are the cheerleaders saying “Hi” to you in the hall. Flat lines are proof that you are a loser. Get freshly pressed and you are Homecoming Queen.

NOBODY in their right mind wants to be a teenager again.

My daughter commented a while back that she wanted everyone in her new class to like her and, suddenly, a seminal moment from my high school years flashed through my mind. Like most teenagers, I assume, I used to suffer through occasional depressions in those days. I would come home and play Solitaire (with real cards, laying them out on the floor) for hours and hours. I would think and think about my day, my troubles. I would resolve to become the nicest kid in the school and be so nice to everyone and then everyone would be nice back and like me and I would be happy again.

At some point, it hit me. There was no way I would ever achieve this. It was not possible that everyone would like me. There would be people who didn’t no matter what I tried. And what’s more, I didn’t like every person out there either.

It was sort of an epiphany. Very freeing.

I told my daughter the story. I added “You don’t have to like everyone you meet, but there is no reason to be mean to anyone either.” It helped us.

They say one year of a dog’s life is like seven people years. I have discovered that one year of a blogger’s life is like 3 dog years.

“I am C. I am from Wisconsin. I am in my 20s.”

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