Monday, August 26, 2013

Kids Will Let you Know You're Aging

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chroncle on August 26, 2013

By Bill Gouveia

            For many of us it is difficult to recognize changes in our behavior and habits as we grow older - unless of course you have been blessed with children.  They usually have no problem stepping up and telling you when you start to exhibit symptoms of aging, either physically or socially.

            When you are a dad with two sons, it’s even easier.  If I ever start to wonder if I’m slipping in any particular area of life, all I have to do is go see one of my boys.  They seem more than willing to highlight any areas of failure my wife may have skipped out of sympathy.

            The fact they are usually correct is no consolation and in my mind no justification for their general honesty and accuracy.  In fact, it just gives me more motivation to live long enough to see them reach my current age bracket.  I want to be able to make fun of them and point out their inevitable shortcomings - assuming I am still capable at that point, of course.

            The examples of this type of thing are easily documented.  It starts when they begin groaning when you make the same corny remarks or tell the same old stories over and over again to their friends or relatives.  The rolling of eyes comes first, followed by the annoying finishing of your sentences, concluding with the sad shaking of the head as if to indicate a deep sorrow for what has been lost.

            I was on the way to a Patriot’s game last year with my best friend and my oldest son when one of the most jarring and memorable examples occurred.  My buddy and I were having one of our usual discussions, like we have thousands of times in front of my son (my boys still call him Uncle Rick).  Then in the middle we were interrupted by incredulous laughter from the back seat.

            You see, our conversation had started about our individual activities of that week and somehow digressed into a comparison of the different medical problems and medication we were each taking.  If you are in your mid 50’s or so, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about and understand how it goes.

            “Oh yeah, I had that done.”  “What medicine did they put you on after that?”  “Do you take it two or three times a day?”  “They say if that one doesn’t work, I’m going to have to go on the same stuff you take.”

            My son was aghast.  “When did you guys get this old?” he asked with more than a hint of glee in his voice.  We exchanged knowing glances and then joined in his laughter – though not as heartily.

            “Wait until you’re our age and have been married for 35 years or so – then you’ll understand”, Rick told him.  My son merely shook his head and went back to his smartphone, no doubt a little bit more worried about his future than he had been before the conversation.

            As much as I would love to ignore this and other warning signs, the age bell seems to be ringing louder these days.  Trying to stay up for Red Sox west coast games is a lost cause.  Mowing the lawn seems to take a bit longer than it did in prior years.  Any alcoholic beverage I drink now usually comes with an umbrella. 

            But I can still get down on the floor and play with my grandchildren, even if I am a bit slower in getting up.  I manage to keep posting on Facebook and other social media, no doubt embarrassing my offspring.  And most importantly, I keep whipping their butts at fantasy football.

            Their mother has not been completely spared from this treatment, although they generally tend to be much kinder to her.  She still thinks she is picked on, but she has it easy.  She no doubt deserves that after being with me for the last 40 years.

            The fact my kids care enough to tease me is in truth a great comfort and source of pride for me.  But please don’t tell them – then they might actually stop.  And that would be the hardest adjustment of all.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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