Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me…

Well, it’s official. I’m a grown-up.

I have an incredible wife, adorable kids, a house, two cars, and a filing cabinet full of bills. I have a graduate degree (which I don’t get much use out of) and a fledgling business. I’ve moved away from the city of my childhood, to a community with norms and hashkafos I can tolerate, if not always agree with, made up of individuals I can relate to, and in time, perhaps become friends with. I have a nearly developed philosophy of life and have a fairly good idea of my competencies and weaknesses. My wife and I are self-reliant, and our only debt is the mortgage on the house.

None of that has anything to do with me being a grown-up. Sadly, my youth is a victim of man’s eternal enemy: time. I’m turning thirty.

When I was a kid, it seemed that adults knew everything. I was in my mid-teens when I had the realization that my parents were just people, like everyone else. I was in my mid-twenties when I realized that when they had been in their mid-twenties, when I was a little kid, they hadn’t had a clue. And neither did anyone else.

Somehow, it still seems that everyone knows more than I do. As if there was some memo that went around to everyone explaining how the world is supposed to work, and I wasn’t on the recipient list. I recently realized that I come across the same way to other people, even though I KNOW I know barely anything.

Take the blogosphere, for example. I read what other people write, and it seems like nearly everyone knows more about everything than I do. Then I read my own posts or comments, and I realize that I also sound like I know what I’m talking about. Of course, when I read my own comments I know that the assertive tone I have is an artifact of my writing style, that I’m always checking facts that I think I remember before posting, and that I occasionally have posted comments that I later realize were factually wrong.

I’m just a little kid, playing at being a grown-up. And I suspect that so is everyone else.

I’m getting old. The world my kids live in is so different than the one I grew up in.

I remember climbing up on a kitchen chair to reach the rotary phone on the kitchen wall. When we got a cordless phone, it was a big deal. It had a huge metal antenna on the base and a chunky plastic-encased antenna on the handset. My daughters have a toy cell phone that sings the ABCs. I remember when car phones and beepers were luxury items.

At that, it was only a few years ago that I saw a GPS for the first time, in a friend’s high-end car.

I grew up watching Sesame Street on a black-and-white TV in the kitchen, pre-Elmo. My older daughter went through an Elmo-obsessed stage, and has two singing-and-dancing Elmos, one talking Elmo, and a big stuffed Elmo doll.

My parents got their first computer, a 486 with a 500MB hard drive, when I was twelve. When I was in high school I taught myself how to use DOS. The guy in my class who was a computer geek had a computer in the dorm that ran on two five-and-a-half inch floppy drives, a bit of RAM, and had a monochrome CRT monitor. I got an internet connection in ’99. My kids learned how to use a mouse and keyboard almost before they could talk, and routinely play games online.

Ah. I have to go build a rocking chair so I can sit on my front porch and yell at the kids to keep off my lawn.


  1. A youngster.....dont worry...30-40 were awesome....

    Now 40".....thats old!


  2. :) I love this post. I have very similar thoughts on growing old. And I'm not even that old. And neither is 30. But I get it. I really do.

    Sesame street didn't used to have elmo?

    I remember playing snake on the computer that only had a black screen. I think my older siblings remember this stuff more than I do. By the time I came around we already had walkmans. I remember my father's first cell phone. Yes it is weird to live in a world that is constantly changing, and like my sister-in-law pointed out, movies that she watched as a little kid are now condsidered classics. Like the lion king.

    But don't forget thta when your kids grow up their kids will say, Iphone? Ha! That is so like ancient. Who knows what they will have then?

    You just gotta keep up. Don't end up like those old folks refusing to learn new technology. (My mom can now proudly go to a few sites on the internet. She used to not know how to turn on a computer.)

    Anyway, good post. Though I sense some cynicism.

  3. Wait till you're 50! I'm now 51, have 2 grandchildren, and look at our photo albums of my parents when they were my age playing with my children when they were little babies....oy the cycle of life.

  4. Ksil, DrJ, I know, it’s all relative. To you guys I’m a kid. Which was actually kind of the point.

    My high-school principal called the other night, as he does every year around this time. He asked if there were a lot of young people in the community where I’m living. As I said to him, there are a lot of people my age, but when I was in his school, seventeen was “young,” and now low 30s is “young.”

    Altie, long time no comment! I check your blog every now and then, but I’m not a big fan of poetry.

    Yeah, Grover used to be the cute furry monster. Poor guy has been shoved into the background since Elmo came along. My mother used to read “The Monster At the End of the Book” to my brother and me, back when the monster was Grover. A while back they put out a new version, with Elmo instead. Not that I have anything against Elmo, but he’s kind of taken over the show.

    > Though I sense some cynicism.

    What, me, cynical?! :-)