The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

The Sliding Scale of Old

Recently I was reading about things that are happening from 12 to 24 months when I read something crazy in the book. Apparently kids don’t fully grasp the concepts of yesterday and tomorrow until age six! SIX! Isn’t that nuts! That means for six years of your life you were running around and you were confined to now or not now.

At age two kids do get yesterday and tomorrow on some scale. For example, if you had a bath yesterday and ice cream two weeks ago they may as well have happened in the same otherworldly concept of ‘yesterday.’ Because it’s all just past.

When talking to this toddler aged set about time I read a suggestion that you make it more relatable by saying things in their terms. ‘Christmas is 300 bedtimes away.’ (Or whatever it is.) Of course that wouldn’t float because 300 is just some random set of words. But if you said you’ll go to bed tonight, and then you’ll go to bed one more night, and then it’s Christmas! Then a kid can sort of get on board with that.

assorted silver colored pocket watch lot selective focus photo

Photo by Giallo on

My wife and sister both just had their birthdays which also brought up conversations of time. My sister’s age to me feels so GROWN UP even though I am just 3.5 years younger than her. But then I think about my age and my gut reaction is usually to think, ‘oh no, I’m old!’ but my rational mind has already begun to undo my youth and construct new concepts around ‘old.’ You see … it’s a sliding scale.

When you’re young enough someone just one year older than you is ‘old.’ As you get older, maybe you’re a freshman in high school and the seniors seem ‘old.’ Keep getting older, say you’re thirty, and now you really have to approach this logically. Thirty approached AWFULLY fast, you think to yourself, so I can’t call forty old because I’ll be there in no time and really … it’s not old. How about fifty? (See, your brain doesn’t even let you increment in small numbers any more! Going up by tens!) I mean … fifty does seem kinda old but … I don’t know … retirement isn’t til 65 (I hope) so maybe 65 is old? Is 65 old?

It gets confusing negotiating with yourself to not feel ‘old’.

All of this sums up to one important conclusion. Self, you’re old. So buckle up, oldie, because you’ll only get older and older until (hopefully) you reach ancient status, and then if you’re lucky, decrepit. Then, at that age, 1 year will equal 1 minute in toddler time, or something along those lines. It’s a complex formula and I forgot it because, you guessed it, old age.

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