"Don't grow up, its a trap!" As an avid Facebook-er I go online each day and my "newsfeed" page has been swarmed by memes, small postcard entries with good messages, thoughtful messages or ones from the "grumpy cat". Grumpy cat (below, right) is hilarious. I have confessed to not being a big fan of cats but this one I can live with.....and laugh with.
Some time ago I came across the meme that spawned the title of this post. Its wording really took me back.
One of the drawbacks of getting older is you have many more things too look back on. It’s the reason grandads have so many stories to tell their grandkids.
This meme made me think back to grade 8, to high school and beyond. Bear in mind, I quit school midway through grade 10. During this time I swear, I looked like I was 12 years old for five years. I was one of the smallest kids in my grade, I was skinny, I weighed about 110 pounds soaking wet.
I hated gym class. (Well, not entirely, I knew I was gay so I got to see things,) I just regretted having to change into gym clothes for that class. I got teased a lot, so often I would turn away from everyone else or be back in a corner.
In high school it got worse. Most of my classmates were shaving, they had hair on their legs as well as other places on their bodies. I didn't. There was this one guy who used to taunt me there. His name was Edmund and he wanted to be called Edmund, I thought, what teenager wants to be called Edmund? Walking naked in front of me, he would say that I had to be wishing I looked like him. Comparing him to others in my class, he wasn't all that. If I was able to compare myself to him now, I'm sure he wouldn't have much to say and I'll leave it at that.
I made one good friend in high school. He had moved to Canada from Hong Kong and seemed to be the coolest person in the whole school. He was old enough to be finished, but on coming to Canada he went to high school for that one year to learn English. I think he was four years older than me and we are still friends today - not as close but we do see each other from time to time.
After school, we worked for his brother and we had other friends but I was still the youngest. When I was 16 we would all go over to Buffalo N.Y. for shopping, and sometimes drinking. The legal age limit in Buffalo at the time was 18 and I can't believe I was able to lie and get away with it. They never asked for I.D. back then. If you had money to spend they sold you alcohol. Mind you, the drinks were so watered down, draft beer at five cents a glass was like water.
So by hanging out with older people I think I grew up fast.
Dating was awkward. I was in the closet. Most girls looked older than me too. I was afraid of anything that might progress into having sex, or that I would I get laughed at because other people my age were developed a lot more than I was. Would the girl know the difference? Someone told me that if it was the first time for the girl, she wouldn't.
Then everyone began to settle down, getting married and having kids. I was under pressure to do the same, mostly from myself. I couldn't come out. I was introduced to a girl on my 18th birthday and we dated a while, then ran off and started living together. By the time I was 23, I was the father to three kids. It wasn't a good relationship, I loved being a father but not a husband. At 25 it was all over, I felt like I had been raising four kids, not three. I felt trapped. What had I done? I didn't have a father around, I didn't know what I should be doing. The only thing that helped me was telling myself to be the father I didn't have.
When I left the marriage, I thought I was free, but I wasn't. As it turned out, there were so many new things to take care of and more learning experiences. There were times I wished I had done things differently, by staying in school. But the present was real, it needed to be taken care of NOW! My friends and family were there for me but I was responsible for what I had to do, no one could do it for me. I asked, believe me, I did ask and am thankful now for the ones who would say, no.
Now I often find myself sitting back and thinking, what parts of my life would be different if I had made different choices. The same answer keeps coming up - probably most of it.
Like I said, the older you get the more things you have to remember. Everything I've done hasn’t been without some thought. I think I just created different options, and in some cases I was under the influence of other people - or mind altering beverages.
Now that I'm older, decisions in life are much more limited. It’s a good thing because I have plenty of time to remind myself of what I can do and what won't work. I use to say, "my body doesn't realize how young I feel", but I think my mind and body are closer in sync now. I'm alive, I am still useful for many things and I know I will be able to enjoy life more. I'm not always as good as I once was but the things I can do, I do better.
I've often been called a smartass for some of the sarcasm I come up with at times, something I inherited from my mom. This behaviour comes in handy now, at this age. For instance, I was trying to hurry transferring to another transit bus one day. The driver had already closed the doors and wanted to get going but could see me coming waving my bus pass. I got on and thanked her for waiting for me and said, "thanks, my hurry up has slowed way down".
Growing older has its bad parts, but a lot of good parts too. No more lessons to learn, opinions and advice and wisdom to share. I've learned not to be too opinionated or give advice without suggesting a solution. Make the other person help themselves, like you had to.
I'd like to change that postcard now to say "If you grow up too fast, it can be a trap". Make your life fun so you can tell it while laughing your head off when you're older.
You can follow The Grumpy Cat on Twitter: @TheGrumpyyCat