Next Stop: The New Preadolescence


Sunday was unseasonably warm. We’d been out of town and came home to a stack of newspapers on the driveway and holiday swag still hanging from the porch lights looking decidedly less holiday than they should in the early spring sun.

“Want to go for a bike ride?” Colin said.

We had bags to unpack. I didn’t know what we’d fix for dinner or when I’d shop for groceries. We had work and school and the week ahead to prepare for. We needed to take the Christmas decorations down before the neighbors chased us out of town with pitchforks.

Of course I wanted to go for a bike ride.

I said something to Colin about changing from his shorts and short-sleeved t-shirt into something warmer and he looked at me like I was drunk, so I dropped the subject. So what if the kid wouldn’t be able to feel his arms after 10 minutes? It was still early February, but he’s young. He’d bounce back.

As he pushed off, I tailed him, noticing the rip in his shirt, right up near the shoulder. Sometimes I think he’s growing up too fast, but he’s still my “raised by wolves” boy, my outdoorsy, active kid. And on a sunny Sunday, he’s still more the precocious 10 year-old than the young teen our calendar says.

And I realized that I’m still sometimes 10, too: willing to leave the piles of luggage sitting in the entryway to go on a bike ride. The older I get, the more I find I’m rather done this whole adulting thing.

In fact, I can think of a whole slew of ways forty-seven is the new ten:

  • My wardrobe is simple – If I had my druthers, every day would be a jeans and t-shirt day. I do not get the allure of dressing up for any longer than it takes crumbs to drop from my face to my lap. And wearing anything with a heel makes me weep within minutes.
  • Makeup is too much trouble – On my 12th birthday, my parents gave me some brown mascara, which I wore every day for exactly one week before getting tired of having raccoon eyes after swimming. I was done with it until my late teens. But even then I never really got the hang of it. Today, I’m as likely to leave the cosmetics out of my ensemble as put in the effort. I can’t figure them out. When I wear eyeliner it looks like a drunk monkey is my cosmetician. Nearly my entire makeup collection consists of a tube of lip balm I keep in my jeans pocket.
  • I got all kinds of volume – Probably due to the Better Parenting Through Screaming and Yelling” method I’ve perfected, my inside voice isn’t what it used to be. Stand back when I call the kids for dinner.
  • I lack a filter – Sometime during adolescence, I developed a girl filter. A little part of my brain told me if I couldn’t say something nice, in a teensy, weensy little voice while apologizing for interrupting, I shouldn’t say anything at all. These days, I find it much more refreshing to be clear, even if it’s a little brusque. And profanity is entertaining.
  • Modesty is overrated – The other night I was out with girlfriends, one of whom had some kind of wardrobe malfunction. I don’t know how she ended up with a white top over a purple bra, but she was unhappy with how it looked under the lights of the dance floor. I happened to have on an extra tank on under my sweater (it’s winter. I layer). So I gave it to her. Right there. … What? No one was looking. Stripping and dressing again quickly in public is a helpful skill. In more than one relay run event I’ve been forced to choose between sitting in a van in sweaty clothes for hours between stops, or changing into something comfortable as discretely as possible. I’ve learned two things: (a) it’s pretty much impossible to strip out of sweaty running clothes discretely, and (b) I don’t care what you think you saw, you shouldn’t have been looking. You think a person with this kind of life experience is going to have a problem giving a friend her shirt when she needs it? Even if the bar is fairly crowded? Nope. You shouldn’t have been looking.
  • I sleep like the dead – I used to sleep with one ear open. It comes with the mom territory, when you have toddlers who want to wander out to collect ladybugs at 4 am. In November. I’d have fewer kids today if I hadn’t learned to survive on crap sleep. These days, I can conk out any time, anywhere, stone cold sober, and it’s fairly difficult to wake me.
  • I don’t know where this appetite came from – I am always so hungry it makes me wonder if I’ve got a growth spurt coming on. Sadly, my metabolism did not get the memo. It’s still stuck at forty-seven. Bastard.
  • The world is suddenly full of things to wonder about – Maybe it’s a factor of the adequate sleep thing: things catch my attention like never before. I mean, can you believe the sunrises these days? Have they always been that colorful? Where do they get all these ideas for all the great movies and books out there? What does the future hold? Where did I put my shoes? So many questions.
  • I don’t care what most people think – See: modesty. And: volume. Oh, and the filter thing. This one’s a survival mechanism, really.
  • There’s so much more reading material – I’m tired of books for adults. I want the spicy YA stuff with the dystopian future where all the adults are dead or zombies and a group of spunky teens has to survive on their own. The stuff I used to read when I was my younger son’s age is a hoot to share with him now, and he reciprocates. The lil’ pumpkin.

Regardless of any lines on my face or stiffness in my muscles, all of these are signs, you know. I’m pretty sure I’ve regressed to a point where life was a whole lot more fun. If this keeps going, somebody is going to have to spoon feed me mashed carrots by the time I’m 60.

But the real downside is for our poor neighbors who I’m sure are drawing straws to figure out who gets to tell us to take down the Christmas lights.

Yeah, guys. Good luck with that.


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  1. I\’d just be happy to have the hair I had back in the 80s….just enough big curl, none of that old grizzled grey frizz of middle age.