What If…Age is Just a Number

A couple of my 6th-grade boys said something to me in the last few weeks of the school year that stuck with me. Apparently, they had been chatting with some other guys who were not my students about my age. 😏They knew that I had been teaching for 30 years, and they assumed I was in my eighties! 8-0! The boys then asked how 🧑🏻‍🦳gray my hair would be if I didn’t color it. Next, they mentioned a couple of teachers they thought might be my age- you know- 80. Then, they said the names of a few younger ones who are “really cool.” 😎

I’m not telling you this because I feel vain about my age. That’s not what this is about. ❌I’m not even telling you this because the boys hurt my feelings. I’ve been in a classroom for 30-years, remember? I’ve heard many 😍wonderful things and just as many 😡awful ones. Those things roll right off. I’m not there to be their friend. I’m there to teach them, guide them, ❤️love them- even when they’re mad at me. ✅Even when they say ugly things to me. ✅Even when they don’t do their work.✅

Here’s the part that stuck with me- when did age become such a negative thing? I’m not even that old by today’s standards. Thanks to 🏃🏻‍♀️healthier lifestyle options and 🔬medical technologies, people live much longer now. I also hope I am blessed to grow much older. To those kids, though, my age was not cool. 😎My age was important enough to be a conversation between teenage boys, for heaven’s sake! And, they gleefully let me know that fact. 🙄

As for me, I believe that wisdom comes from life experience, and it brings depth to every season. I want a doctor with years in the operating room. I value the teacher who has worked with lots of different kinds of kids. Give me a nurse who’s been around a while and the chef who’s trained in the kitchen. I want a mechanic who understands what can go wrong with my vehicle and how to fix it. I want young people in these jobs, too, who are eager to learn and grow. Give me the new professional who brings the fresh information to the table while blending it with someone who has years in the field. I’ll always be a champion for young folks, but that’s another discussion for another time.

At the risk of sounding old, I’m going to tell you how it was in my day. First, we 😀greeted adults with Mr. or Mrs. before the last name rather than casually addressing them by their first names. I still speak to my mother’s friends like that! It feels 🙃weird not to! Second, we asked for advice based on the wisdom of years. We respected life experience. We were interested in the stories. We would never have discussed a teacher’s age with her- especially while putting a negative spin on it.❌

Many people have made it big after the age of 50. Take a look: Colonel Sanders (KFC anyone?), Duncan Hines (you know- the brownie mixes), Bram Stoker (Dracula fame), Ray Kroc (🍔McDonald’s- c’mon!), Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House 📚books)- just to name a few. Grandma Moses started 🎨painting at 77. The oldest marathoner didn’t start 🏃🏻‍♂️running until he was 89. Fauja Singh retired from running at 104 and is now 109. Diana Nyad 🏊‍♀️swam from Cuba to Florida at age 64. Momofuko Ando invented Ramen Cup Noodles at 61. Heck- Richard Branson took a 🚀flight to the edge of space recently, and he’s 70!

What I’m saying is that old isn’t just old. Every season of life has value. 💯We need to share and listen and learn with people at all stages of our 🌸beautiful lives. What if…age is just a number? We shouldn’t be limited as we grow older. We’re still worthy. We’re still relevant. And- yes- we’re still😎 cool.💖

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