I’m not someone who’s that hung up on age. I’ll admit, I did freak out a little in the weeks and days leading up to my 40th birthday, but once the day came, I was fine – off and running into my next decade without much lamenting of my past, more youthful days. I’m actually looking forward to my forties.
I’m not overly concerned about the crows feet that are appearing around my eyes, or the brown ages spots that now semi-cover my calves. Hell, they’ve been here for years now, and it’s my damn fault for worshiping the sun so religiously.
I do, at times, miss my pre-pregnancy boobs, but I’ve got healthy kids, which I consider more than a fair trade-off.
So I was surprised last night to discover my youngest daughter, who is now four-and-a-half years old, weeping in her room alone. My older daughter and I could here her from where we were in my room reading a book; we called her in to us, to see what had happened.
Perhaps she’d broken a toy, or was to her frustration threshold struggling to put on a pair of tights, or maybe she’d been scratched by the cat.
But, no. She walked into my bedroom crying hard, clutching a framed photo of herself at one year old. It was, in fact, her one-year studio photo, a good photograph of her, with a tiny pony tail sticking straight up on the top of her head, Pebbles-style, and just two tiny teeth grinning back at us.
“What’s wrong?” We both asked her at the same time, concerned by the intensity of the sobbing.
“I want to be one! I want to be little again!” She wailed.
This was not what I had expected.
“I don’t want to get bigger. I want to be little. I only want two teeth. I don’t want to be big.” She went on.
Luckily for me (and her) a friend had just signed me up for a women’s newsletter that arrived that morning. It contained an article focusing on the importance of showing your children compassion. It suggested that it is of great benefit to always at least acknowledge your children’s feelings, even if you don’t agree with them or they make you uncomfortable.
Because you see, my first reaction was to laugh, and say, “But you’re only four, girl. How can you already feel too old?!? You still wear a pull-up to bed at night and haven’t even made it into the public school system yet!"
But I can be the Buddha (sometimes), so instead I rubbed her back and let her cry and wish for the good old days when she was spoon fed and not yet steady on her own two feet.
It took her a long time to calm down, longer, I’m afraid, than my compassion lasted. I finally had to shut her down and shuttle her into the bathroom for her before-bed teeth brushing. (Which, admittedly, would have been a much quicker affair if she was still one.)
I’m not exactly sure what events or ideas led her to lament her pre-toddler days. Maybe it’s me telling her so often lately that she’s getting bigger every day, maybe it’s the fact that we now sometimes talk about kindergarten that will start in the fall, of maybe it’s that she has a brand-new baby boy cousin and is no longer the baby of the extended family. I guess I’ll never know.
But the episode got me to thinking, if I could go back to any age, any at all, when would it be?
Certainly it would be post-college. Maybe it would be 27, that was a good, good year; but honestly, I don’t long to go back. Although I don’t know this to be true, I’m thinking that perhaps my very best year, my very favorite age, is yet to come, is some still unknown number in the future.
What I really hope, is that I always feel this way, that I always think my very best year is somewhere just around the corner...