Monday, September 16, 2013

Arrested Development

I turned 55 on July 9th this year.  They say you are as young as you feel, right?  Well, in my case then, I am about 14.  You wanna know what I did on my birthday?  I went to see a children's movie, "Despicable Me 2".  My daughter went with me, she is 26.   I liked the movie so much I saw it again that weekend with my husband.  Before we went to the theater, Steve and I stopped at McDonald's for 2 Happy Meals. That's right.  Happy Meals.  They came with toys.  From the movie.  We now have 6 Minion Happy Meal toys.  I didn't tell my parents, though.  They would never understand why a grown woman with adult children would care to have toys.  Thankfully, they haven't seen my bedroom.  I have quite a few knick-knacks that would leave them shaking their heads.  I have a Hello Kitty clock 
radio and plush, a Madeline doll (from the books), teddy bears, a life-size opossum, beanie baby bears & giraffe, the aforementioned Minions and a 17-inch Beaker Muppet.   One of my most prized possessions recently acquired is a miniature replica of my favorite movie character, Wall-E.  My husband gave it to me as a birthday present.  It has to be my favorite birthday present...ever!  (Even more than the ukulele I got last year!)  I have seen Wall-E at least 20 times and if you count partial views, it's closer to 40.  Fry's Electronics store showed Wall-E in their DVD department continuously for over a year.  I never went there without checking to see if it was playing. I have probably seen that movie more than any other.  Neither of my parents have seen it once.  My mother doesn't like animation.  I love cartoons and animated movies.   She thinks it's silly.  I guess that means I'm silly.  I can't argue with that.  It's how I resist getting old.  Oh, I'm sure I LOOK old to the youth of today.  My dark brown hair is long, but it has streaks of gray.  I am not 118 lbs. anymore and I have to wear glasses to read.  I still dress like a teenager, though.  T-shirts and blue jeans, every day.  I think I have worn a dress once since my parents moved here 4 years ago.  I dress this way because I take care of my parents and it would be ridiculous to wear nice clothes.  I spend most days in the kitchen, doing laundry, cleaning or going to doctors, running errands to the bank, the post office, the drugstore or getting groceries.  (I spend a LOT of time getting groceries!)  

I'm not sure why my generation acts the way we do, but we are most definitely NOT our parents' generation. Our parents have looked and acted like adults since their teens!   Baby Boomers approach aging as a challenge or a dare.  Baby Boomer women don't dress like old ladies and they don't cut off their long hair simply because of their age.  My generation doesn't care if we have gray strands and telling our age does not require a security clearance!  We go to
children's movies and Disney World without small children.  We attend conventions such as ComicCon or DragonCon dressed as a favorite character.  We ride bikes, rollerblade and skateboard.  Instead of getting rid of our toys we add to them. Collectors of vintage and newer toys have created a billion dollar industry although some collections don't always do well, i.e. Beanie Babies.  The point here being, we don't shun the things that made us happy as children, we embrace them.  My parents have never talked about things from their childhoods.  No mention of favorite toys or activities or even pets.  I don't understand that.  It's as if denying the existence of such things makes them more grown up.  As if appearing that way brought them more respect from society.   I grew up believing that my parents were old even though they were younger than I am now!  I could not imagine them as children.  Don't get me wrong, growing up is a necessity, but doing so shouldn't mean never enjoying child-like interests or hobbies.   Taking care of elderly parents is extremely stressful and there are times when I am at loose ends.  Being able to relax and regroup is imperative not just for my health, but for my relationship with my parents.  Cartoons and movies provide a much needed outlet.  Nothing is as joyful or cathartic as laughing at something silly.          

I am an adult who does responsible things, but I believe one must embrace whimsy & whimsical things to stay young at heart.  Dr Seuss said once, “Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.”  I agree.  It's important to mature, but one should be able to have fun no matter what their age.       

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Parental Guidance

I was driving down the street alone this morning when a Taylor Swift song came on the radio.  I love Taylor Swift.  I love the music of a lot of young singers today.  They are fun, peppy and usually uplifting.  Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Rihanna, Shakira, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood......and Taylor Swift.  So as I usually do, I sang along.  I did so because, well, that's what I do.  Always have.  As long as I can remember since learning to drive, I have sung in the car.  When my children were young, I sang in the car and it wasn't a problem.......until they were about 8 years old.  Then things changed.  If I sang to the songs of the 60's, 70's or 80's, that was okay on occasion.  But if I dared to sing along with anyone else, the eyes would start to roll and a whiny "Mawwwwww-um!!" would be uttered and I would shut-up.  This morning I sang and no one rolled their eyes.  And it got me to thinking about the unwritten rules for parental behavior.

Children are naturally embarrassed by their parents.  Especially when peers are present.  Babies and toddlers love being with Mom or Dad, but  when a child reaches elementary school they gradually learn from their peers that parents just aren't cool.  Conversely, kids aren't cool if they like being with their parents.  So  around age 8, the shunning and eye rolling begins.  However, the rules for parental behavior are not set in stone.  If your child is a rule-breaker, a trend-setter or popular, he/she can decide what is verboten and what is not.  This type of child doesn't care if peers find parental behavior objectionable.  Their parents are allowed to be room mothers, den mothers, car pool drivers, field trip chaperones or  PTA President without incurring the wrath of their children.  These parents also possess an abundance of photographs of their kids taking part in school plays, recitals, concerts or sports.  It's one of the perks of admittance to their world.

So over the years I have mentally stored knowledge for the rules of unacceptable behavior and followed them because, to be honest, I was scared of my kids.  I gotta say it can be truly heartbreaking when you realize that your little peanut doesn't want you around anymore.  And telling an insecure child to ignore peer pressure is tantamount  to asking them to wear a sign that says, "I'm a momma's boy (or girl)!!".  They would rather cut off a limb before appearing in public with their parents.  And you never know when something seemingly innocuous is suddenly added to the list.  What was acceptable yesterday can be on the list today without a memo or warning.  Parents are expected to know the rules and if they forget, there are penalties. Usually in the form of verbal condemnation.  It's not pleasant.  Believe me.

In solidarity with parents everywhere, I give you The List.  You are welcome.

Rules for Parents (according to their kids):

 1)  Don't wear sexy clothes, especially nightgowns.  And NO cleavage, ever!!
 2)  Don't sing along to songs done by a younger generation.
 3)  Don't do "raise the roof" gestures or "high 5-ing" me or my friends.
.4)  Don't yell out "You go, Girl!"  at public functions.
 5)  Don't wipe my face, straighten my clothes or comb my hair in public.
 6)  Don't attempt to imitate characters from movies or TV.
 7)  Don't ask to be Facebook friends.
 8)  Don't get too chatty when my friends visit.  Say hello & LEAVE!
 9)  Don't try to sound cool by using the latest vernacular of my generation like the word "dude".
10)  Don't hug or kiss me in public after age 5.
11)  Don't call my name & wave at school functions or in public.  One exception: graduation.
12)  Don't make noise during sex or smacky kissing sounds with spouses.  
13)  Ew, on second thought, just don't  have sex.  EVER!!!
14)  And for god-sake, don't dance!!!
15)  Don't be offended by my rules.  I love you, but I am awkward, full of angst and I just want to fit in.
16)  Don't ever stop loving me or being there.  This is just a phase. 

If I knew then, what I know now. .......