Kimmy Sophia Brown

I Can't Wait Until I'm All Groan Up

Mar 25, 1996
Living with little children helps keep the adult mind on twinkling toes. The other night my five year old son asked, "Do animals use toilet paper?" I was about to answer that they don't use it because it's too hard to unroll with their hooves, when my husband said, "Let's change the subject." And then I heard myself say, "Well, gee Daddy, how about if we talk about that scene from Jurassic Park when Laura Dern plunged her arm into that big mountain of Triceratop poop?"

My kids giggled.

"Gee mommy, you're a big help," Peter said, rolling his eyes.

That's one of the things that I love about relating with kids. No abstract concepts. Life revolves around the tangible.

I've noticed that children try to figure things out based on what seems logical to them. For example, my kids were all looking out the window one day looking at some birds eating seeds under a tree. Ranin scientifically informed us that, "Lady birds have their eggs sitting down. Boy birds have their eggs standing up."

There is something fresh about the way kids think. Unfortunately a good deal of that innocence is lost when people grow up. We go through periods of re-defining ourselves. Once one hits 40, various ironies occur. I find that part of me could easily sit at the table and have a food fight with my kids if it wasn't such a burden to clean up afterwards. Another part worries if the day will come when I'll need to buy Depends.

How do we maintain a reasonable balance between feeling young and acting our age? I look at other adults and wonder how they became adult. I haven't figured it out yet. When does the moment of adult-dom come? Do people one day say to themselves, "Today I'll start flossing and tomorrow, I'll become an adult."?

I think we begin solidifying into an adult when we begin worrying about what other people think of us. Somewhere the child-like confidence of just being who we are recedes. Then our sense of humor recedes. We only let our hair down with our closest friends. (Unless our hair has receded too.) Then one day we find that we've lost the urge to crawl through the hedges up to somebody's front door and ring the doorbell and run, like we might have done when we were thirteen. Not that I ever did that. It's just an example. Ahem.

When I was a kid, I thought that when I was a grown-up lady that I would have to wear billowy, flowered dresses and have blue hair like my grandmother. But my generation has options that past generations didn't have. I can dye my hair (a natural color) and listen to wizened adolescents called rock'n'roll performers who are ten years older than I am! When I'm really old I can take Metamucil and watch "Murder, She Wrote." Also elderly ladies like Marlo Thomas, Sophia Loren and Jane Fonda have taught the modern woman that accepting maturity doesn't mean looking like Whistler's Mother.

You can really see the evolution of middle-aged people by watching movies. For example, Auntie Em and Uncle Henry in the "Wizard of Oz" were probably only in their fifties. Auntie Em was crying out for a makeover. If Uncle Henry had taken her into Kansas City for a new dress and a new hairdo, who knows? How about Myra Gulch? She was probably even younger, but she had no sense of humor. She was the kind of curtain-peeping busy body who had nothing better to do than to stick somebody's little dog in a basket and report about it to the sheriff. No wonder she had that witch face.

Which leads me back to the importance of whistling a happy tune and keeping a cheerful, fun-loving lease on life. Let's try to expose the ingredient that curdles our innocence and turns us into stifled old coots and cootetts. We can learn from the past and determine not to repeat it. When I'm in my eighties I want to be like Jessica Tandy. Until then I want to continue to crawl around on all fours playing horsey (even if I don't have any little kids around). And maybe indulge in an occasional food fight with Peter, just to keep the cobwebs greased.

Kim lives in Maine, which is lovely, and where she continues her enthusiastic relationship with Art, Music, Nature, Books, Animals, Humor and Trees.