I don’t know when it happened but all of a sudden there are swarms of people who are younger than me.
Well of course, I tell myself. I’m in my early 40s. So it should be that way.
But it seemed only yesterday that I, a youngest child myself, was young and running with the young crowd, the “in” crowd.
Now youngsters are everywhere. There are new phrases, new tunes and new ways of thinking. They are different – and I must be different to them. Old and out of it, probably.
There was a slew of young faces at the airport the other day as we waited to fly to Los Angeles, leaving behind Buenos Aires for a few weeks to visit my parents. The youngsters arrived in ones, twos and threes. They exchanged niceties, showed off new tattoos and high-fived each other about something or other, saying, “That’s the way” and “Go girl” and “Uh ha.”
It all seemed rather foreign. Been there, done that. Would I like to do it again? Of course. But now there seems no way of hiding the aging process and my occupation as a father. My three kids are racing around the waiting area, super excited about flying to visit their grandparents and aunts and uncles. They’re hooting. They’re crawling and they’re running and they’re getting told off by us parents.
Now the one-, four- and six-year-olds are banging on a window loudly and with plenty of giggles. They’re in trouble with us for disturbing the peace. I have to tell them off, tell them to stop. But what do I say? Ah ha! I’ve got it. “Don’t bang on the window. Somebody’s going to have to clean it.”
A girl of the in crowd overhears me and giggles and says, “That’s something my Dad would say.”
The remark sinks in fast. I’m old and beyond the cool set. A dad. No longer with it.
I think for a minute. No, it isn’t so bad, not really. I like rolling around on the floor with my three kids and gazing out the big windows at the trucks below, watching them dock at airplanes to load luggage and refuel tanks, explaining to open ears the process (or what I think the process is). The pilots are checking the cockpits on that plane there ready for takeoff. The kids ask questions and listen and look at what you point at. They’re into it – and me. And I can feel it. We sit down in our seats on the plane and they marvel at the individual TV sets, play with the seatbelts and look at fellow passengers stuff suitcases in the overhead containers.
The thrill then begins to subside. The one-year-old becomes fidgety and the middle one is rather loudly demanding to sit in first class. He wants that bigger seat and that bigger TV and a glass of that bubbly water served with a smile. Keep calm, I think. We’re in the air and we’ll soon be there. I glance over at the in crowd and they are snoozing or reading books or watching a flick, no worries at all. Oh, the carefree life. Then duty calls for a diaper change. Uh oh, we have only two left. Now one. Now none. And eight hours to go. I think that indeed I am “in.” I am very much in for it big time with no place to find a fresh diaper between somewhere over South America and Los Angeles.