Age Is Everything But A Number


I often hear people contest that age is nothing but a number. Two weeks ago I celebrated my 27th year on this incorrigible planet. Of course up until now, I too shared the same sentiments. But as I grow older, and hopefully wiser, it dawned on me that such sentiments might not be entirely true.

Age is everything, other than the number it denotes. With age comes maturity, of course to take up that offer is entirely up to the individual. I am all for choice and I believe maturity is something you either partake in or refute.

The ageing process is a progression towards a fully fledged maturation status. Age is more than the wrinkles on our face, the slight dip in our posture. The slowness in our talk, the u-turn our cognitive abilities take. It is about fulfilment- fulfilling the ageing process which we are destined towards from conception. Some of us will graduate from this life with having passed the various stages of the ageing process, some of us won’t. Some of us will have it all figured out and pass through the ageing process with flying colours, some of us will crumble, some won’t have a clue.  That is life, there are no guarantees that you will, but nonetheless we still take part.

Society will no doubt give us pointers on how to best overcome each stage of the ageing process; from cosmetics to diets to technological advancement that help us predict the future so we can endure this ageing processes longer and with no defects or ailments. But nature will always have the last laugh and fate will almost certainly deliver the last punch!

Society will also dictate how to best behave in each segment of the process:

–          The Child: Seen but unheard.

–          The Teenager: Rowdy and in need of direction.

–          The Twenty Something: Yet to figure out life, but society can’t afford to have you clueless for long. So you are lured into further education, training and the likes.

–          The Thirty Something: Established, your career is flourishing with your significant other and your nuclear family intact. A house with a good sized garden in your name and your two cars parched parallel to one another on your front parking space.

Society will allow you one hiccup though; one opting out clause and that is in your Forties; on the basis that once you have had that you opt back into the ageing structure.

–          The Forty Something:  Start operation – mid life crisis. Your perfect marriage and career is in tatters. Your forty something self is not that dissimilar to the Twenty something you; only in your forties you have a little more responsibilities than you did then. Isn’t that why they say “forty is the new twenty”?!

–          Enter your Fifties:  You are contributing to the structure again … Alas you are deemed responsible!

–          Sixties: You have earned your stripes; society dictates that you don’t require as much close circuit attention as you did in your yester years. You are now on course on to heralding your senior citizenry status.

–          Seventies, Eighties and Beyond: You are now nothing but a burden on society, so you are slowly but surely shunned out. To the point of no return!

Birthdays thus serve as a reminder, a check point if you like. Each year on our birthdays we review, look back and check where we got to on the ageing process, are we flagging behind or are we on par with this structure?! Then we start to panic, stress and self doubt. I start asking myself fundamental questions such as where am I going with my life? Though having such conversations at 3:00am with myself, often means that those questions remain strictly rhetorical.

My six years old nephew asked me on my birthday “what do you want to be when you are older“? With a slight befuddlement at his question, I replied “I am already old” to which he replied “no no, I mean when you are thirty”!

I suppose I will leave answers to such potent questions for when I am in my thirties, for thirties are when life changing decisions are made. For now I shall enjoy whatever is left of my twenties- cluelessly cheery.

If nothing at all, the ageing process has taught me  that the ability to progress; to succeed, to live will be in my own terms, at my own pace, a one woman race!

N.B This post was intended to be a humorous reflection on birthdays. Somewhere between starting the post and ending it, things took an unexpected philosophical turn!

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Parenting 101


Parenting 101

I have a new form of admiration for parents. Last week my sister has foolishly wisely trusted me with her two children. And thus I was thrusted into the world of parenthood with no afore mentioned training or manual. Being an acting-in parent is just so exhausting and I can’t even begin to imagine what the real gig is like!

One of the main reasons I am not a parent yet and happily (carelessly would be the chosen adverb here if my mother was the author) allowing the number of good eggs I have dwindle away is precisely that. I can just about manage to take responsibility for myself let alone have another living being(s) solely depend on my good counsel… I mean what even constitutes as “good”?

I am a chocoholic with no self-restraint and I don’t believe anyone should be deprived of it. Milk on the other hand, now that is gross, I wouldn’t force anyone to have it in fear of forever loathing it. And this is coming from an experienced soul who was tortured as a child with my father’s weird concoction of cardamom and honey infused milk. **gags at the memory** I now have an irrational fear of all three ingredients; I wouldn’t want my niece and nephew to follow suit. Do I mind children playing outside for extended periods of time..? No, not at all, by all means please do. Why would anyone say no to some peace and quiet watching some good old telly without the need to have subtitles and voice-over simultaneously on because of the noises these littlins make! It is truly mystifying.

Of course the end result of my non-conformist untraditional parenting strategy results in rearing insomniac children who are hyperactive, with a Maritime stench, suffering from calcium deficiency and superfluous melanin! Yaay me!  This is probably the underlying reason why I am my niece and nephew’s favourite aunt.

Sunburned-Child-Clipart

In my quest to be an infallible acting-in parent, I concurred that I should dive straight into all things parenthood; I am not one to do things half-heartedly. So I befriended other parents whom I now had common grounds with, albeit temporary, who have kindly indoctrinated me in all things parenting. I must say I am well versed in a new kind of acronyms these days such as the likes of SEN, LEN, LEA and PTA. I now find myself championing causes that were not so long ago foreign to me. I find myself campaigning for small classroom sizes in schools and volunteering at various events. I even had my own stall bursting with homemade goodies at one of the events. I believe they were called cake bake, cake sale, sell cakes, bake sell cakes, sell bake cake…who knows something to that effect anyways.

My diary now indicates school term times where it once indicated cherished bank holidays. My lifestyle now revolves around childcare duties and forward planning is pretty much part of my realm these days. Spontaneity has taken a backseat in favour of forward planning and that child psychology module I did in my undergraduate days has finally come to some good use.  Yes positive encouragement … that I do utilise quite a bit; stick and carrot chocolate, yes that treatment is quite handy too and a bit of 10 minute strikes here and there does a child (and my sanity) wonders. My egg-timer is called upon in such instances where it once notified me if my quadruple chocolate brownie (yes quadruple you heard it right) was ready to be scoffed, I mean taken out of the oven.

Quadruple Chocolate Brownie

Quadruple Chocolate Brownie

I now know the various after-study school clubs within a 10 metre radius of my post code. I even attended my first ever parents meeting. Of course I attended numerous parents evenings few decades ago but not in my current elevated role as an enquirer of my supposed children’s academic attainment but more as a culprit that needed reporting. Those teachers always found the need to report me to my parents for all sorts of trivia; from the sublime to the ridiculous. My personal favourite was from my science teacher who said that I daydreamed a fair bit in her class. Unbeknown to all parties to that conversation then, such was to be my case forever more. Of course my parents didn’t see day dreaming as trivia. To them if something warranted a report regardless of how big or small it was, then it must be serious. The meeting I attended last week though was altogether different.

I sat amongst other parents where we discussed the faith of the after school club. Our good counsel was called upon to determine the next course of action. There was no time or frankly patience for indecisiveness so I quickly relinquished such known idiosyncrasies and put on my sensible parent hat and thought deep and hard about what I the parent would say should say.  There were penetrating questions (clearly to other parents) thrown in on us. Such as should we still have classes during the Easter break? I with my sensible parent hat on uttered the unthinkable… “Sure lets have classes during the Easter break”.  Because in my head I was thinking parents would need their children at some form of an educational asylum to keep them sane… Nope I was mistaken!

This is what I imagine a sensible parent hat to look like!

This is what I imagine a sensible parent hat to look like!

It transpired that everyone else voted for having Easter off because as one parent put it “they needed a break from toing and froing the length of the city“… I had to quickly retract my vote and act in unison. Clearly I suck at this. I can’t wait to hand over my acting-in parent role and resume my permanent favourite aunt role.

As if the universe was telling me something, I was introduced once more to the world of parents and children this week, though this time in my place of employment working on infrastructure and capacity building for early years. If you are baffled by that it is just a shamancy phrase for working with parents. Seriously you don’t have to be a superstitious person to sense that the cosmos are trying to convey some sort of a message here. I am not a superstitious person, you know what let me go and decipher this cryptic terseness first before I make any ill-founded claims … which reminds me I mustn’t walk through that scaffolding on my way out later.