As a Middle School teacher, I don't think I've yet reached the pinnacle of Age Jokes. A few students have tried to make them because they recognize that insulting your teacher's age in a light-hearted moment will earn you laughter and peer approval (and, in most cases, a good-natured eye roll from the teacher herself), but really at 32, I don't really feel that the "Old" jokes have hit me hard. I'll definitely acknowledge that some things those ratty yet lovable tweens come out with are definite indicators that they simply have no concept of age, but that's not quite the same thing. In a whimsical Friday afternoon poll, I learned that my students determine my age anywhere between "23?" and "like, 50." Basically, I'm a Grownup. I'll take it.
But my son and HIS contemporaries are another story. Somehow, that seven year gap seems to make all the difference. Or is it my role as Mom? I'm not sure.
Today, while out shopping, Joey (6) and his BFF/Cousin spotted nutcrackers among the various Christmas decorations newly on display.
"What's a nutcracker?" asked my nephew. "Does it really crack nuts?"
"Well, THESE don't," I said. "But I think they actually were used to crack real nuts in the Olden Days."
I was figuring that, like me, anything labeled "Olden Days" would bring to mind any one of the Little House on the Prairie episodes, or, if you're pushing it, maybe The Waltons.
I was wrong.
My nephew dropped the topic, but a little while later returned to me with his large questioning (challenging) brown eyes.
"So, when you were little you REALLY used nutcrackers to crack nuts?"
I'm a little slow on the uptake. I went to correct the little chap with, "No, I said they used them in the Olden Days."
"Right," he said. "When you were little?"
It's rough, but I'm getting used to the insults. And they aren't limited to age. Here are just a few of the things Joey has said in recent months that have REALLY boosted my self-image:
"Mom, it's so nice that your face looks sun-burned ALL the time, even in the winter." Yeah. I have splotchy skin.
I kissed Joey on the cheek and teased, "I got lipstick on you." But he was unaffected. "Yeah, right, Mom. You don't look like you're wearing any makeup AT ALL."
On the beach, in a two-piece bathing suit that has since been incinerated,"I just love those fancy stripes on your belly." This was in reference to the stretch marks that my husband INSISTED were "just in my head."
And my absolute favorite, delivered in moments of absolute seriousness:
"Yeah, but Mom, you're CRAZY."