Thursday, April 10, 2014

how we see ourselves

Yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon learning to play mahjongg.  One of my friends has a standing Wednesday afternoon mahjongg group and I was invited to round out a second table.  The group was very forgiving of my very limited understanding of mahjongg.  I've only played mahjongg once in my life about a year ago and had no recollection of the vocabulary or rules. Luckily, this group of ladies was not the cut throat variety of players but a group of friends that used the game as a time to chat.    As we were playing and dealing out the tiles, which is a fast paced activity where everyone takes a turn pulling four tiles at a time to their wall I noticed our hands as we reached to the center of the table.  All of our hands were old.  Even those women who had maintained their hair color, and figures, and style, couldn't keep their hands from aging.  Some hands had pretty manicured nails, some had short clipped nails, some were lily white and some were darker brown, but all were thin to where you could see the bones and our hands were veiny and mottled.  Even the beautiful diamond rings on some of the hands couldn't mask the age.

As play progressed and I became more comfortable with the rules and the pace of the game I started listening more to the conversation than worrying about my next move.  Suddenly one of the women commented "Aren't you always surprised when you look in the mirror and you don't look like you did when you were thirty?"  After a very brief moment everyone agreed that in our minds we are still thirty and the kids are still young and we have our whole lives ahead of us and sometimes we wonder who that woman in the mirror is.  I wonder if when we are 90 we will wonder why we don't look like we did today, and I wonder what my hands will look like.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

While reading "The Over-Protected Kid" in the April "Atlantic" magazine I realized that this may have been the one part of parenting that I got right, although I may have gone a bit overboard in allowing my children freedom.  I used to plop my one year old in an umbrella stroller and send his 6 year old sister off around the neighborhood to take him for a walk.  She wasn't yet allowed to cross the street by herself so the walk was accomplished by staying on the same sidewalk going in and out of all of the dead end courts in the neighborhood and then retracing her steps to get home.  The handles on the stroller were about at her shoulder height and she would barely be able to see over the back of the stroller.  They'd be gone a half-hour or so and I loved the chance to have them out of the house for a bit.   If I did that now I'd probably be arrested for child abuse.