The joys of jumping generational boundaries

By Lynn Moncus

Seeing ourselves as others see us can be quite an experience and can cause us to pause and reflect just a bit.

Recently, for instance, one of my young friends compared me to her grandparents and then tried to talk her way out of that when I blew a gasket. Fortunately, she knows me well enough to know when I’m teasing and didn’t become too alarmed when I repeated that comparison to several other friends.

Of course, she was drawing a valid comparison, except that her grandparents may not be as old as I, but I wasn’t going to just sit around without making a comment or two.

Those of us who have been in the teaching profession became quite accustomed to being called “Mother,” no matter what grade level we were working with. We were also used to being considered to be older than dirt even if we were still in our early 20s; however, we still have a few problems with that age contrast as we get farther over the hill.

Perhaps, we don’t always think in terms of age and of just how much older we are than are the young people with whom we are visiting. Because some of us were age blind when we were growing up, we have a little more trouble accepting the obvious comparisons because we didn’t make them ourselves.

Some of us weren’t around many people our own age when we were very young and just didn’t bother to learn to distinguish among the various ages. In the canyons, my closest friends were my parents and grandparents. I guess I retained that preference for age as I grew because many of my closest friends have been some years older than I. We just naturally seemed to speak the same language until my later years when I began to cultivate younger friends in order to remain in touch with progress.

Actually, those young friends have been a very great comfort during these retirement years because they have helped me to feel that I could still speak to people of all ages. They have also kept me in touch with the reality of aging as they have reminded me that they weren’t even born when I was graduating from high school and college, and that they certainly can’t begin to remember some of the past to which I refer rather frequently. Those remarks usually bring me up short because they show that I still remain age blind when I should be more aware of the generations that separate us. I shouldn’t expect them to know what was going on during WWII because many of them can’t even remember the Vietnam conflict.

As we age, we don’t necessarily see ourselves as the antiques we appear to those in their youth. Most of us still look at the world through young eyes and then are taken aback when we realize just how old we are and how much more we have lived than those wonderful young friends. We smile as we compare our ages to theirs and tell ourselves that we can now forgive them for comparing us to their older family members. After all, we are well over the hill and should be aware that we must seem far behind in our ways of thinking. Yes, young friend, I may be older than your grandparents, but I really do have cable TV and don’t drink decaf! What fun!