Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I am not a child

At what age, I wonder, is it flattering to be told you look like a child? Children might not care one way or the other, although the fact that they count their birthdays by half- and quarter-years indicates that even little ones don't want to be taken for littler ones. Preteens and teens, certainly, expend an enormous amount of energy and fashion cash trying not to look like children. People in their 20s are pretty determined to be taken for adults. Maybe at some point in one's 30s, the thought of recapturing childhood has a bit of allure, but at some point beyond that it just becomes insulting, doesn't it?

So why do people think it's so cute to tell me, as I walk around my children's school on parenting business, that I look like one of the kids?

I look at myself in the mirror, and I can see that my wrinkles have wrinkles. My chin has a chin. My hair is thin, and more than a few strands are grey. I do not look like a middle school student. So any remarks to that effect must really be comments on my height (all 4'10" of it), my style of dress, or the way I do (or don't do) my hair. And in no case would those be considered complimentary. Yet I'm supposed to smile and be flattered that I've been taken for a 12-year-old? What's up with that? It happens so frequently (and happened even when my kids were in elementary school) that I can't just take it as a mistake of someone with bad eyesight. Perhaps I'm being oversensitive, and most 46-year-old women would love to be mistaken for a 6th-grader. But I think not.

No comments: