I have no delusions about aging. I’ve accepted that I’m no longer young enough to warrant even the fake, “Is your mother home,” kiss-up line from wily door-to-door salesmen. But I’m fairly certain I’m not “horse-and-buggy” old.
I’m in my mid thirties but still pass for twenty-something on a good hair day, thank you very much. I’m convinced it’s my mop of red curls and fair skin that still turns heads. It has nothing to do with the crazed and harried expression that paints my face while trudging through grocery isles, waiting in pick-up lanes at school or running from one extracurricular activity to another. Just trust me on this, ok? I understand that Tyra won’t be calling my name as the next top model, but I can still give plain Jane a run for her money. I tell you all this so you can understand why it was such a huge slam to my ego when my kids began firing questions that all led to one horrible revelation. They thought I was OLD. No, not just old. They believed I was ancient!
It all started with cell phones. They wanted one and I told them to kiss the idea goodbye. I started explaining that when I was a kid we had two phones in the house: one in the kitchen attached to the wall with a cord, and the other in my dad’s office. That was the phone you NEVER touched unless there was a fire or a death…and then, maybe. After all, there was just one phone line, anyway. Want to know the big kicker? No one NEEDED to talk on it, ever. It was a privilege, not a right. And texting? There was no such thing as texting (gasp!). That led to an explanation about the absence of answering machines. If you weren’t home when a call came in (HUGE gasp!), you missed the call! Yes, really! They had to keep calling until they got you!
Of course, this trip through ancient history piqued their curiosity. “What else was different, Mom?” Well, computers always sat on your desk or under it, but NEVER on your lap. They were the size of dorm room refrigerators and made for work, not play. I paused for effect before hitting them with the fact that there was no Internet. NO! WAIT! No Internet?? Horror movies can’t produce the look they gave me. It’s true, I told them. You had to read words on paper instead of a monitor if you wanted to learn. You were the search engine, not Google, and Wikipedia was the set of encyclopedias in the living room. They looked at me as if I had lost my mind with a mixture of pity and horror on their faces.
Now I was a woman inspired. I knew they’d soon be overfilled with gratefulness for how good their childhoods are in comparison to mine. Cassette tapes versus iPods, VHS tapes that took minutes to rewind versus BlueRay and DVD’s. Then the big one: the one that would shake their very foundation. No On-Demand for TV. As if that weren’t enough, I casually tossed in that microwaves and dishwashers were luxuries, NOT standard fair, and my family didn’t own either one for a long time.
I could almost hear them processing all this new information when they came back with the ego-killing question. “So…like, you had horses and buggies instead of cars, right?” What?? You jumped from no Internet to horses and buggies? How did you just skip from the ‘70’s to the early 1900?’s? My great grandfather was around for the horse-drawn ice carts, morning milk wagons and homes without electricity. But he’d be 110 this month. I’m no spring chick, but 110? Come on!
Simmer down self, I said. After all, kids are here to keep you humble, keep you on your toes. I have three, and they range in age from 7 to 11…and I still laugh when I think of the serious looks on their faces. Horse-and-buggy old? Really?
It’s just further proof that my Mom’s prayer for payback has finally been answered. Gee, thanks, Mom! Touché!