How To Get Old
1. Have kids.
Bing! You're done.
Katie turned 18 today, which brings the number of legally adult children I've brought into this world to two.
Do you remember becoming legally an adult? It may be a ways back. Do you, nonetheless, secretly suspect there may have been some mistake?
Certainly I do; but what brings it home for me tonight is not the fact that my second-born is six days short of being able to vote straight Democratic in the upcoming midterm election, dammit. No, it's that her brother, my oldest, who is twenty, came by with his girlfriend to help with the cake.
I'd like it if my adult son had a job to go with the girlfriend, and a household that the two of them were maintaining on their own, but they are not. They are living with my first husband's mother. This is scary because my son is the age that I was when he was conceived, living under the very same roof, with the very same matriarch upon whom he and his girlfriend now depend. Plus ce change...
I talked to him about that a bit tonight, and he assured me no such thing is going to happen with him and Marty, although (as I did point out) nobody ever, ever, ever thinks it is going to happen to them, while much of the continuation of the human race is contingent upon the eternally unexpected.
But do your kids have to make you so old?! It had been a long day with Katie - I took her shopping at the outlet malls; and she was tired too, there's a lot of walking, not to mention the draining salesmanship of a couple of very young guys who are much more profoundly dedicated to the mission of selling you a pair of $165 Uggs than any human being should rightfully be.
But I'm tired, and Katie has gone off with my ex, and there I am with my son and his girlfriend, listening about how they perform in a shadow cast for an obscure movie whose title I won't bother to look up so I can type it out here, and they've eagerly disregarded a few gentle hints I've thrown out about how tired I am and how tomorrow is a work day and so on, until I finally say - and it's not rude, if you think of both of them as my kids: "Well, listen, guys, it's late, and I'm pretty wiped out. How about we all call it a night?"
The girlfriend says okay, and they make their way to the door - to go back, I guess I should add, to my ex-mother-in-law's house - and we all say goodnight. And I hug my son, because I love him. And I hug the girlfriend, not because I love her - I barely know her - but because she's a nice girl, isn't she, and my son loves her, and it's polite, and whyever shouldn't I? And I'm struck by how surprised she is, how unexpected the friendly gesture seems to be.
And this is selfish, but as they leave, I feel with renewed force how I am not twenty anymore. I know - without ever having become aware of learning - how to behave in a way that puts younger people more at ease, that assures someone else that socially, everything they've done is okay. When did I get THAT power?!? Last time I checked, it was all I could do to eat dinner in company without covering myself in spaghetti sauce. And now I am calling an end to an evening and easing the social awkwardness of uncertain youth?! Who the hell died and made me 41?!?!?
Which reminds me, I'd better track down my voter registration card soon.