On Aging

Lately M has been somewhat obsessed with aging, “being old” and the elderly. She talks about getting old and dying and acts like an “old person” during pretend play. Let me tell you there is nothing like a 4 year old pretending to walk with a cane to make you laugh! I’m not sure what triggered this; maybe it’s because the beloved dog of family friends died, or because she’s been looking at her baby book with photos of her and her now deceased great-grandmothers. Perhaps it’s just an age-appropriate curiosity about life-span. Whatever it is, it makes for some interesting conversation so I recently recorded a conversation we had on what it means to get old.

Tell me what do old people do?
Well, when you’re old you need a cane to help you walk. And old people fish. They fish a lot. And they hold a cane to walk to the lake like this [demonstrates walking, hunched over, with a pretend cane]. Then they catch a fish and eat it in a tent.
I have no idea where she got this concept or where this is going…

So, like they’re camping? What kind of food do old people eat?
Well, mama, they need soft camping food. Like marshmallows and fish. Then they go in the tent and eat barbeque. They live in the tents.
Can you just imagine a retirement campground? For some reason all I can think of is the campsite in Walking Dead. Can’t you see it: Zombies vs. Elderly!

How do you get to be very old?
You have to live a looooong time. A long, long, long, long time. Until you’re 100!

Who are some old people you know?
Well, Busia! She’s old. But she died. And Dziadzia! But he died, too. They’re both dead because you die when you get very old.
Busia & Dziadzia are my maternal grandparents. Busia died at age 91 when M was 8 months old. Dziadzia died when I was 5 – I barely remember him and M has only seen a few pictures so I’m shocked she brought him up.

Do you know anyone old people who are still alive?
Yes! Aunt Wid and Uncle Dave!
her great aunt and uncle who are both in their 70s
And Daddy!  Daddy is very old.
since Mark is 5 years older than me I find this hysterical!
And me! [rocking in her rocking chair] I’m VERY old. Like 30 years old!

Do old people like rocking chairs?
They need to take naps in the middle of the day so they rock themselves to sleep. Sometimes they cover up with a blanket – all the way to their chin!
Can I be an old person right now, please?

They don’t take naps in their bed?
No! They need to sleep in their rocking chair. The bed is not safe for old people – they might fall out! Maybe they need old cribs to sleep…. a bed with tall walls. That would be very safe.
To keep out the zombies, of course.

And then she lost interest in the conversation and started talking about lions.
I don’t know about you, but as a decidedly NON-CAMPER I’m not looking forward to my twilight years.  Fishing and living in tents? I’d rather go to a nursing home!