I Didn’t Realise I was old.

You’re getting old’ a very nearly excommunicated friend told me. Why? Because I’m over 50. The fact that she’s 49 is beside the point.

That’s exciting’ she continued.

I’m intrigued. ‘How so?’

Well, you’ll be able to go on cruises, travel and take it easy. Life will be smooth sailing, no worries, no problems, I can’t wait till I get old.’

I learnt that her view of old age was the pictures she sees in the magazines and papers. You know the ones, older people lying on deck chairs, playing tennis, taking photos of places they’ve visited yet getting old is not that fantastic.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to travel and not care what people think of me, but age is what society has determined. We know this because of the latest viewpoint going around – you know – the forties are the new twenties, the fifties the new thirties, the sixties the new forties and so on. This shows that when once society viewed a person as being old when they hit over their sixties, they now see people as old when they hit their forties. Heck, at one time a child was not an adult until they were 21, now it is 27.

I know people who are ‘Old’ in their twenties and I know old people who are ‘Young’ in their seventies. I know 60 plus year olds who go kite surfing, travel the world, go scuba diving, dancing they try new things – society says they’re old but their brain and body is still very young. I know 18 year olds that should be out partying, being reckless because of their age, yet they sit at home watching DVD’s, knitting and talking about politics.

Society does not like to talk about the elderly. Where possible, society ignores them, they don’t talk about the issues facing those getting old because that means having to admit that there is a problem. Getting older is not the most fantastic thing. I don’t enjoy my hair going grey and having to get it dyed every three weeks, still, maybe that’s how I can earn some money, invest in the company that makes hair dye.

Nor do I enjoy the aches and pains. It really is harder to get up in the morning these days. And I don’t follow the normal pattern of arthritis which took a year to figure out I had. Older people complain about how their arthritis is worse during the colder months, mine is worse during the summer months.

Then there are the diseases that the elderly can get, the dementia, the cancers, the heart attacks and the discrimination. Yet all these things which are seen as ‘Old people’ problems affect the young as well. There are people in their twenties and thirties that have dementia. There is so much cancer around affecting even toddlers, it’s scary and young people have heart attacks now, which was never seen decades ago.

Diseases don’t listen to society’s viewpoint. They don’t discriminate and yes some of it is because of lifestyle choices, but some of it isn’t. Life can be hard. Abuse, conflict, war and disease – all these things have an effect on the person’s body, mind and emotions.

Some people have to deal with more issues than others, and sometimes that is through a personal choice, but sometimes it through another’s choice. But we all have a past, and the thing about getting older is that sure you make mistakes, but have you learnt from your mistakes?

Society shouldn’t look at age as in a number. Age is in reality timeless, but if one is going to look at a person who’s old, then maybe it should be based on how the body copes, with the ravages of time, and what life has thrown at that person.

Society seems to be swinging all over the place as to what it accepts and doesn’t accept as being representative of the whole. Society likes to be politically correct, so much so, maybe we should get rid of the terms like baby, toddler, young, teen, middle aged, old and elderly.

We, as society would then be very politically correct, but then if we have nothing to distinguish the age of people, then we have just de-humanised humanity even further.

There are programs now where people are pushing for mature age workers to be considered because of their skills and what they can teach the younger generation. For example: a 70 year old gay person, is not going to shock a teenager with that revelation, yet when that 70 year old was young, it was an illegal act. What will shock a teenager though, is that there were no mobile phones, no televisions and no Internet.

Maybe society should go back to basics. People are born – that never changes. People grow up – that never changes. People die – that never changes. What changes is technology and advances in research which aids in humanity’s ability to live to a longer age.

Let’s get rid of age defining attitudes. Life is a journey from the day one is born until the day one dies, be that a short or a long time on this earth. Live the best you can. Treat others well. Leave a legacy that will have people talking, even if that is just your family.

The Instructions of Life

Signs, labels, instructions. Everywhere you look, there are signs of some description, telling you what you can and cannot do. They are on the streets telling us where we can and cannot park, and for how long, when to stop and give way and the speed limit, although for some people these are just suggestions.

They are on our food. Warnings about the contents, directions on how to cook. They are on our clothes telling us how to clean them. And they are in booklets instructions of how to put something together or how to use something that you have just bought.

And anyone who has tried to put a flat pack object together knows it’s less stress to just pay someone to do it. It seems like a good idea at the time. Get it, put it together, it’s quick and easy…Not.

First you have to make sure that you have all the parts and haven’t lost any. The you have to translate the instructions from English into some sort of intelligible English. Sometimes you have to reverse the instructions given, in order to complete the task. And then you have to allow way more time than you think because it will take longer than what is said in the instructions. Yep, way easier to get someone else to do it.

And the Do’s and Dont’s in instruction booklets and on clothes. The thing is when warnings are given, when the instruction booklet says ‘Don’t’ that is because someone, somewhere has, in all probability, done exactly that and probably been hurt in the process. And so the manufacturer has included it in the warnings.

But some of the instructions leave me shaking my head. I read it and then read it again because I’m sure I’ve misread it. But no what I’ve read is correct. I get that we need warnings and some of it is or should be common-sense.

People should know that water and electricity don’t mix so don’t spill liquids on to the power board. But there are some things where you just say to yourself – Really, who would do that? And then you realise that someone, somewhere, must have, because some of the instructions are so bizarre.

Take the warning on a baby’s jumpsuit. Take baby out of clothing before washing…. Who would not take the baby out of the jumpsuit, or any form of clothing, before throwing the clothes in to be washed. I would’ve thought that was common-sense but apparently not.

At a holiday home one of the instructions said…. Do not encourage the chickens. Anyone else have a visual of people giving the chickens a pep talk, some motivation so they don’t get too depressed. No… no one else sees chickens with self confidence issuesit must be just me.

Another said… The owners take no responsibility for the disruption of the holiday caused by flora and fauna. I get the fauna especially in Australia, our wildlife will try to kill you. That look of cuteness is just a ruse. But the flora.. short of walking through a field of stinging nettles or to close to a rose bush, what can a flower do. It’s not like it’s going to invade your cabin.

But how about the instructions found

On an iron…Do not iron clothes on body.

On superman costume…Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.

On a chain saw…Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals…and I’m leaving that one well alone, but really, who? what? really!!

In a microwave manual…Do not dry pet in microwave.

On a toilet brush…do not use orally. Ok, who tried to do that. Is your mouth really that big?

On a blow torch…Not used for drying hair

The list goes on and on and on. There are so many that I have to wonder have humans really become that stupid. Whatever happened to common-sense? I have no idea but apparently we need to be protected against our own stupidity.

Children are Impossible

‘Children have changed so much today. They are impossible. They have no respect for anyone. Not like in my day’ was what I heard recently. Another person said ‘Children have changed from generation to generation and will continue to do so.’

This is the general idea isn’t it though? That children have changed and yet I beg to differ. I don’t think that children have changed at all. But society has. Society has changed over time with its expectations on how people are supposed to behave.

Let’s look at a child. No matter where you look in history. Children are first of all born. Even Jesus was born as a child. When children are born the only need they have is ‘Feed me, change me and hold me.’ They don’t care what’s happening in the world, it’s all about them and so it should be, seeing as they can’t feed themselves or change themselves.

A child has no preconceived ideas about people or biases when they are born, They are born innocent and vulnerable. They have no trust issues or hatred in their heart. That has not changed at all throughout history.

It is only as they grow that they learn from those around them. They learn their parents likes, dislikes and biases and when they go to school, they learn from other kids who have learnt from their home lives the likes, dislikes and biases of their parents. So when a child makes comments about another person they had to learn that from somewhere. It is from parents and family that a child first learns to hate or to love their fellow man.

What has changed is society’s expectations. There used to be a time when a child was punished for violating the house rules. Sometimes that punishment was too extreme but today, parents are not allowed to hit their kids, and if they punish the child by grounding them, or taking away their mobile, then the parents run the risk of being sued by the child.

It is the foundational start that the child has, that sets up his or her belief system, that then guides or misguides them as they try to navigate through life. That belief system comes first from their parents, then family, then school and later life.

What has changed is parents want their children to have the best of everything so that they are not alienated by their friends but what that teaches them is – I want, I get – but unfortunately, that doesn’t work in the real world.

Schools give all the children participation ribbons on sports day so that they feel inclusive and everyone feels equal, everyone is a winner. But that doesn’t teach them that the world is not equal. That sometimes in the game of life, they are going to lose a few rounds, but they haven’t been taught how to deal with losing.

Schools make sure they’re food friendly for those with nut and other food allergies. Creating a safe environment. Commendable but doesn’t teach the child how to deal with the work place when the boss doesn’t care about allergies.

The same with schools having a ‘Friend’ chair so that if a student is lonely they sit on it and the other children are encouraged to include them in their group. It doesn’t teach children that there is no ‘Friend’ chair in the real world. Some people just aren’t going to like you.

And no more clapping because some children have sensitive hearing. The world is a noisy place it’s better to deal with that at school because the world isn’t going to quieten down just because someone has sensitive hearing.

Teachers now want the children to call them by their first name so that the children feel closer to them, that they are their friend. That doesn’t teach them respect. Teachers are not supposed to be their friend, they’re supposed to teach.

Have children changed? Yes

Are they more aggressive, demanding and spoilt? Yes, some are.

Are they ruder and disrespectful? Yes, some are.

And there in is the answer. Some are, but some are not. How can that be so, if it is children, that have changed?

The answer is that it isn’t children that have changed. It is society. Society is very good at telling children what their rights are but not very good at telling them what their responsibilities are.

Society’s lowering of standards in regard to respect for their elders and their parents and other figures in authority. Society has lowed its expectations of politeness. Society needs to take some responsibility for setting children up to unrealistic expectations without helping to give them coping skills for when it doesn’t work out.

Throughout history it has been, and is a balancing act that keeps swinging from one extreme to the other. The pendulum is swinging back again as society tries to reinstate some values. Children don’t change, they don’t come with a manual when they are born but they are raised by the parents values and beliefs.

Children need to be valued, loved and have their self esteem built up as this is what helps them to become productive members of society. But that needs to be balanced with rights and responsibilities so that they learn coping skills when things don’t go according to plans.