Baby Age, Middle Age, Old Age.

Baby Age, Middle Age, Old Age.

by Doyle Ranstrom on Nov 7, 2020

My almost six-year-old granddaughter asked her mother if she was middle-aged?  My daughter, said no, middle-aged is around age 60.  Then she asked my granddaughter, "what do you think is middle age"?  My granddaughter replied she thought it was nine or ten.  

A few years ago, my daughter gave me a wall magnet which said, "If you did not know how old you are, how old would you be"?  We think a lot about age in our society and age labels.  What is middle age, or old age for that matter?

And the age labeling starts early.  We often hear about a couple having a brand new baby.  This leads to the question, when is a baby old?  Six months.  Nine months.  And how do babies feel about this?   I cannot tell you how much time I have spent pondering about this.  

Imagine two babies in a nursery on one asks the other, how old are you?  The other says nine months.  Oh wow, says the first.  Yeah, says the second, my parents are trying to make me eat this green junk that looks like seaweed and tastes worse. The first replies, my parents said they are going to keep me on a bottle until I am two which is weird because I reached 2 a few months ago.  I think they mean years, said the second baby.  Oh, says the first, what's a year?

Our country has a dysfunctional relationship with age.  Go figure.  On the one hand, we treat many of our people as "little old people".  On the other hand, the combed age of our two Presidential candidates was over 150 years. Keep in mind the Civil War started 159 years ago.  Maybe that is why the Civil War was often mentioned during this election.  Perhaps many supporters lived thru it.  

Many people as they get older deal with what I call little old man syndrome.  For women, it's little old woman syndrome. For those who are gender-neutral, it's little old person syndrome.  

Before going farther, getting older is a good thing. It beats the alternative.  However, being treated like a little old person takes all the fun out of getting older.

One aspect of little old syndrome is being told one can no longer do something.  But that is always true.  The last time I played organized football, I was a senior in high school.  I could have maybe tried for some low-level college somewhere, but I understood the demand for small, but slow running backs was not great.  I realized, given my lack of talent, I would never want to play for a team that would have me. 

At the same time, I did my first-week long bicycle tour in my early 40's and started downhill skiing in my early 50's, and picked up golf in my 60s.  Granted, my first year of skiing was pretty ugly, and though my golf game has improved, in part that is because it would have been impossible to get worse.  When I get to my 70s, I am considering either badminton or rugby.  There are pros and cons to each sport.   

More important, in the last few years after selling my firm, I started a new one, begin writing, not well I have been told, but at least trying, and after spending considerable time researching and thinking about long-term trends which will affect all of our futures, put together a presentation which discusses these trends. 

The point is, as we get older, there are always things we stop doing, but there are also things we can start doing. Age is not the limiting factor, approach to age can be.  

If you stop doing something you have enjoyed, because it is time to move on, that's great.  if you stop doing something you enjoy because friends and family are telling you are too old and can no longer do so, that's little old person syndrome.  One cure is to find new family and friends.  

I am not sure if 60 is middle age.  I do know life is short, and being restricted by someone else's labels or restrictions is a waste of a precious gift.  The challenge for all of us is to live our best life at every age.  

Finally, I have been accused of spacing out my whole life.  My mom yelled at me regularly for being in never-never land.  Teachers would tell me I did not pay attention.  A while back, my wife was talking and then said, “did you hear a word I said”.  I said, “weren’t you listening either”. Turns out that was funnier in my mind.  What people do not understand is I am dealing with complex questions like, when does a baby go from a new baby to an old one?  

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