Encore: In the Company of Youth

Years ago I was helping my sister prepare supper at her home. It was my job to cut the vegetables for the stir-fry and I was welding the big chef’s knife chopping carrots with a flourish and quickly rendering the broccoli to bite sized pieces. Suddenly, my four-year-old niece peeked her little blond head above the counter top and stated,

“I didn’t know your mommy let you use a knife!”.

That little comment stopped me mid chop for I was well within my 30’s and my mother had “let” me use a knife for quite a while. My sister and I had a good chuckle over it, but little Meg was dead serious. I don’t know whether it was because I spent a lot of time playing with her and therefore she considered me a peer, or if it was because I didn’t have little girls of my own and was not a “mommy”.

I’d like to think it was because she saw me as someone young at heart. Someone carefree and full of play like herself.

Someone far to young to be using a sharp, dangerous knife on my own.

What a compliment. To have someone younger than yourself perceive you as someone his or her own age. I wonder when “curmudgeoness” settles in. I wonder why some of us feel the constant need to spew out what are really shallow platitudes rather than sincere advice just because we are older and therefore “know more.”

Now, I have to admit I am beginning to understand the concept of chronic crankiness. I’m getting older and stiffer and achier. And all of this “ouchiness” makes a person, well,

grumpy.

It takes me longer to get going in the morning, I am really beginning to crave naps, and I take it personally when my body won’t let me stay up late enough to watch my favourite crime drama or keeps me awake too long to stockpile enough sleep to function.

I think what really makes us feel old is not the fact our bodies remind us that this is so, but rather because begin we remove ourselves from the company of youth. Maybe because we think we have nothing in common or maybe it’s because their energy and enthusiasm makes us feel inadequate or sucks the life force out of us. Whatever the case, I know that most days I feel pretty lucky to work as a teacher and surround myself with the exuberance and hope that comes from youth.

I just wish I could sneak in a nap a couple of times a week.

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