The funny thing about “age”…

Age – I always find the subject of age to be a strange one!  There are almost as many different view points on age as there are people with view points!

I am writing about this topic because over the past few days I have seen several babies and, although this is not a new revelation for me, it struck me funny to hear how people respond to the question, “how old is he/she?”.  Ages for children up to about the age of 3 months are defined in weeks – 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 7 weeks, 11 weeks, etc.  Why say “12 weeks” instead of “3 months”?  Then, from then on to about 2 years, age is defined in months – 4 months, 9 months, 13 months, 24 months, etc.  Is this because using weeks and then months makes it “sound” older (24 months “sounds” like more than 2 years)?  Or is it that parents think that using weeks and months keeps their babies in the baby stages longer because maybe “years” makes it sound like the growing up process is progressing too fast? 

Whatever the reason, this is the only period in our lives where our age is specific and told exactly as it is!!!  The rest of our lives is spent either overstating or understating or just plain avoiding the topic all together!

After that, the rush to get older starts to occur – age is defined as “almost 5” or “going on 16” or “8 and a half”!  Up through the teen years and into early adult, everyone tends to want to jump right on to the next age point almost as soon as they hit the one they are at!  They spend so many years wishing their lives away by not just taking in and enjoying the age they are!

At some point (some earlier than others), we start to define our age in decades – “twenty-something”, “thirty-something”, “fourty-something” and so on or “in my twenties”, “in my thirties”, etc.  What’s that all about?  Are we afraid to say exactly where we are in each of those decades?  Does saying “thirty-something” make a 39 year old sound as young as a 31 year old?  It does put them on the same playing field, perspectively speaking!  It is in these decades, usually the later ones, that you hear responses to “how old are you” that sound something like “old enough to know better, but don’t”, “older than dirt”, or “it isn’t polite to ask a lady her age”! 

When I was a young child in elementary school, my teacher asked me how old my mother was – I don’t remember why she needed to know, but it was on some questionnaire she had.  I didn’t know the answer so I was instructed to go home and ask her and come back the next day with the answer!  So, I did – that evening, I asked Mom how old she was, but didn’t tell her why I needed to know……her response was “sweet 16 and never been kissed” – of course, at my young age, I didn’t see the humor in this because I had no perspective to help me understand just how ridiculous the answer was!  I went back to school the next day and told my teacher that my Mom was “sweet 16 and never been kissed” — she broke out into a chuckle and then asked me to go back and ask how old she REALLY was.  I don’t remember the rest of the story, but I assume at some point I must have told Mom why I needed to know and she gave me the answer my teacher was looking for!

My point to all this is that I just don’t understand why age is such a controversial topic!  It is what it is!  The day after you turn 15, you are not “almost 16″……  Why do we go through life working so hard to find ways to avoid admitting exactly how old (or young) we are? 

I don’t remember ever being that sensitive about my age – I freely admit it and celebrate it!  I did have one year that really “bothered” me — it was 27!  I don’t have a clue why, but it really upset me to be 27 and I don’t think I actually said 27 once in that entire year!  There was no “almost 27” during my 26th year and I remember dreading that birthday!  I don’t think I even went out and celebrated that birthday, either (which is odd because I LOVE birthdays)!!!  Then, the day I turned 27, I started right in with “I’m almost 28″…, it wasn’t the idea of getting older or closer to 30 that bothered me – it was just that number!  Strange!  But, I haven’t had any numbers that have bothered me since!

Last week, my baby brother turned 50!  I made my annual phone call to him to sing “Happy Birthday” — each year I call and as soon as he picks up the phone I skip the “hello” and go directly to “Happy Birthday to you…” and he sits on the other end quietly listening to the entire song!  When I’m done, he usually makes some snide remark about having to listen to my crappy singing voice every single year (this year the comment was “you’d think after 50 years we could stop doing this”)…..but he loves it!!!  ha-ha  This year, I had all I could do to refrain from cracking some “half a century” remarks, but I think he’s more sensitive to age than I am, so I contained myself…..didn’t want to contribute to the old fart feeling any older!  ha-ha-ha

In 12 days, I will be 52……since it is less than two full weeks away, I think it is OK to say “almost 52” and not have it mean I am “wishing my life away”!

2 Comments on “The funny thing about “age”…

  1. Hi! I have an 18 month old. When people ask her age, I say she’s 18 months, not a year and a half. I think parents do it with their young ones because at this age, development is measured in weeks and months. A 15 month old who isn’t speaking is perfectly fine developmentally; however, an 18 month old with no language may have a slight developmental delay. Similarly, an 18 month old may still be wobbly on her feet while a 22 month old climbs like a monkey. So, speaking for the moms of young kids, I think we measure age differently because we’re also measuring development. After age 2, I think development starts to even out, so months aren’t equated with milestones.

    Now, I also have a 7 year old and I can’t tell you how much it bugs me that he tells people he’s 8. He will be 8 … in December … but he’s been telling people he’s 8 since March. Enjoy your youth! I tell people he’s 7 going on 17 because he has such an attitude sometimes! 🙂

  2. Ditto Kelly on the baby ages thing. It gives a better perspective at that point.

    I’ll be 33 in 9 days…I was going to get my nose pierced to celebrate but now that will have to wait! I’ve had a couple of tough years (My 30th was bad because I was trying desperately to get pregnant and it made me feel like such a failure, which is ridiculous because I WAS pregnant…just didn’t know it yet!) but overall age hasn’t really bothered me a lot.

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