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Friday, September 19, 2008

Officer Down, Call For Back Up!

The day began just like any other day. We had gathered at a nearby park to celebrate the leaving of the nest – of sorts – for my nephew. He had opted to go to college out of state, which of course required a huge family farewell to send one of our own fledglings out into the big world of “grown-ups”.
 
The weather was perfect. There was a cooling breeze blowing in off the lake. Children ran and played nearby in the lush grass. Jet skiers flitted around on the water’s glassy surface. The Teenage Wonder also known as Son was in a not-as-grumpy-as-usual mood and actually managed a smile from behind the dark sunglasses he always wore.

Perfect. Then the shots rang out.

I had been sitting among “the young ones”, enjoying some bonding time with my nieces and nephews. I gazed around in wonder at this group of newly minted teenagers, wondering where the time had gone. Where had these wonders come from, when had this happened, this transformation from child to teenager?

My glance fell on my niece as she spoke to me, her arm tucked under mine. Gone was the sweet little girl that I carried around on my hip who pulled my hair and in her place was a tall, svelte teenager with long dark hair and big brown eyes. Gone were the braces, away with the chubby preteen, here stood a lithesome swan, sure to cause my brother-in-law a lot of sleepless nights in the days to come.

I cannot remember exactly what we were talking about, how the conversation had evolved; I remember standing, talking, teasing, and laughing.

That was when I heard the first shot.

“Oh, Aunt T,” my niece, just barely sixteen years old soothed, her tone placating, her smooth pretty face crinkling as she smiled at me, her look almost sympathetic.

“I still have plenty of time…” she began. 

Zip! The shot whizzed past my ear. I looked around vaguely. What was going on?

“I’m not worried about that, I will think about all of those kinds of things…” 

Zoom! The missile grazed my temple, stinging me. I felt as if I should have ducked. Did anyone else see what was happening? Anybody?

“When I get to be your age.” 

Bang! That shot hit me squarely in the chest, slamming into my heart. I whizzed around, the statement snapping me to attention. Shots fired! Officer down, requesting back up! I am under attack!

Hold up! Wait a minute! When did I become the “old lady” of the bunch? When did I become “that age”? Now, it is one thing for me to say that I feel old, but totally another thing to hear the words coming from the mouths of babes.

Who was she calling old? I don’t look old. I don’t feel old – most days. I still got “it”. I am still reasonably fit, definitely a lot smarter, and wiser than I used to be – at her age. I realize that at sixteen, you have a whole big world ahead of you. However, my dear niece, youth – highly overrated youth – is just too much work! As I watch this group of kids, jostling each other for position and attention, I am reminded why I am so very glad to have become “my age”.

I am so glad that I do not have to worry about what everybody else is wearing. Unless they are paying for my clothes, I really could care less. Who in the heck is “everybody else” anyway?

I am so very glad to not have to go through the whole high-school experience again, once on that ride is more than enough for anyone.

I am glad that things that once seemed so important to me then are just not that important anymore. A thing like some girl in fifth period was wearing the same shoes as mine. These things no longer rate a blip on my radar. The Teenage Wonder says that I am oblivious to what is going on around me. The truth is that frankly, my dear, I just do not care.

I am glad that I do not have the overwhelming need to go out and pierce or tattoo something.

I am glad that I can be sassy and outspoken and know that there is not a darn thing anybody can do about it. I am certainly past the age where I could be grounded for not watching my mouth, though I am sure some would like to try!

I am glad that I am no longer inflicted with the “I’m bored-itus” of youth. I am living a life blessed with rich friendships, family and the history thereof and an abundance of things to do and see that keep me stimulated. Each year gets better as will each decade. What I lack in muscle tone I more than make up for in mental aptitude.

I’m glad that I can say no and not have to feel guilty about it nor do I have to explain why I do not have to or want to. If I do not want to go, eat, do or be anything that I do not want to, it is perfectly all right. No is no.

I’m glad that I do not have to obsess anymore – you pick a topic, a teenager can obsess about it. Nope, all done with that.

I’m glad that not all of my childhood dreams came true. What in the world would I have done with a pony if I had become a racecar driving female astronaut pediatrician anyway?

I’m glad that I no longer suffer with the young person’s disease of “Need to Please”. Aging with less anxiety. Letting go of what didn’t happen. Grateful for having lived another year. No longer hiding the things that make me unique.

And I am so very glad to be living a happier and richer life precisely because I am no longer in my youth, knowing that these days are the good old days as I get my life’s satisfaction from focusing on the “real” important things - being a good friend, mother, sister, daughter and companion. Living fully engaged in my own life, having let go of what could have been in order to anticipate with joy and wonder what is to come.

I pulled myself together, dusting off my ego and stood as tall as my five foot four frame would allow. I smile at my niece.

Oh, you, young one. You have so much to learn; you of the bright eyes and dreams, you of the line free face and worry free days. I hugged my niece, patting her blissfully smooth young cheek. I am not saying that it has been easy and that there will not be some sticky passages that come up along the way as I continue my trek through Midlife Divadom.

I would not trade anything for my journey. I would not give all of the money in the world to go back to where she is headed. Old is still out there somewhere and I will get there when I get there, but not yet.

Not yet.

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3 comments:

Smart Mouth Broad said...

GOOD FOR YOU! I'm not there YET either. LOL Great post!

Miz Liz said...

Nice piece. Print it out and save it for her. She'll be glad you did.

T L Thomas said...

Thanks Miz Liz! I will!