First of all, thank you to everyone who shared birthday wishes to me via all the various ways we share them these days. I’m not great at acknowledging birthdays of others, so I definitely appreciate it when people go out of their way to acknowledge mine. I tend to be pretty laid back about birthdays, though my wife is completely the opposite and takes it as a personal crusade to make sure everyone has a card, cake, and ice cream on their birthday.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, so I thought it appropriate to share my first thoughts as a freshly minted 36-year-old on here. First things first, to officially feel my age, I slept wrong on my hip last week and it still hurts. So I’ve been complaining about my hip. I’m not sure there is anything that is as quintessentially old as complaining about hip pain that you acquired by “sleeping wrong.”
It’s not all bad getting old, though. One of the perks is that I’ve had time now to save up my pennies to be able to afford some cool stuff. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for cool cars, but also tried to be sensible with my purchases over the years. I started out after college with a Pontiac G6, and I really had a thing for Pontiacs, but the brand shut down and I eventually moved on from that car. I snagged a “superhero blue” Kia Optima next, which I got in one of the higher trims, and I drove for 9 years and 165k miles. I don’t know that either car is “cool,” but they were cool to me as they were what I could afford, and what I picked out. In particular, I loved my Optima, and was sad when it became clear that is was approaching time to move on.
Though, I spent a decade as an automotive engineer, I’m not really a gear-head. That is to say, I know my way around a car, but I’m not one of those guys that can tear apart an engine or keep an old car running for years with a little elbow grease. I change my own oil and rotate my tires, but otherwise stick to the simple stuff and trust a licensed mechanic for when I have real problems. Fortunately, the Kia was a great car that avoided a lot of problems
Being able to drive the crap out of a car like that also allows you avoid car payments for a long time (depending on when you were able to close out the loan). For me, I was fortunate to have been able to save for four years and even sell the car for a bit to someone that can help ease her into her senior years as a useful vehicle. I took that money and leveraged it into my next attempt at “cool.” I wanted a full EV, and after a bit of research, took the plunge into a Tesla Model 3.
I’d like to think that Teslas are objectively more “cool” than my previous vehicles, but part of getting old is also losing the ability to properly judge “cool.” That being said, if you’ve ever poked around in a Tesla, you know that they combine cars and tech in a way that is, I can confidently say, at the very least “nerdy cool.” As an electronics engineer, it definitely pegs my geek meter, and I’m super excited about the car. It’s something 22 year old me would definitely have been jealous of, but could no way have afforded, so… a perk of getting old.
Apart from a major car change for me, a lot has happened in this past year. My previous post on this was chronicling the birth of my second daughter, so that’s a huge deal. Raising kids during this whole pandemic stuff has been challenging to say the least. Kids are hard anyway, but then we’ve been stuck in our house with not a lot of options far too much.
I’m trying to focus on gratefulness here, though, so the perk is that I’ve really gotten to be around my kids more. I’ve been working from home, so that’s let me be around far more than in a “normal” year. Another perk is one that my 22 year old self would not necessarily have understood. Our oldest, Brooke, had a doctor’s appointment last week. The office does something that likely most pediatric practices do, where they will give a kid a sticker if they are well behaved.
Brooke, accompanied by her mom and sister, tagged along on an appointment because she’d been pulling at her ear. Parents will know that any time you can package appointments, you take it, so it was sort of a surprise test for my wife who now had to take both girls instead of only Blair as she’d been planning. Still, we’re both still learning how to juggle two, and it wasn’t without trepidation that Kate approached the appointment. With a toddler, you’re always one tiny hair away from melt down.
Brooke was a perfect big sister, however. She listened and followed directions. She was concerned when her baby sister got a shot. She wore her little mask the whole time without tugging on it. It was as if we had coached her up for weeks beforehand (we had not). The nurse even commented that Brooke must go to a daycare where they wear masks, as she was being so good about it (she does not). So, she got a sticker.
As a parent, when I heard the story and saw Brooke’s pride in having earned a sticker, I wanted to frame that sucker in a golden frame and stick it up on the wall. I totally get now why my mom saved stupid things like my grade school report cards or pictures I drew in kindergarten. It’s a perk of being old that I can find such joy in something so small. I think that must be a wisdom that only comes with age and experience, because 22 year old me would totally have not understood.
In case you are concerned, we did not frame the sticker, nor file it away in a plastic container to return to Brooke when she’s 35. We are trying really hard to not become our parents, at least not completely. (There are, of course, a lot of positives we learned from them that we have no problem stealing. Hoarding tiny achievements that only a parent would appreciate is one we’re trying to avoid. I mean there’s gotta be a line, right? First doctor sticker for wearing a pandemic mask well is probably not something you save, right? I mean we took like two-dozen photos, so we’re definitely not ruining our daughter’s life by not saving a sticker in our already cluttered storage spaces… right? We have the memory. We’ll show her the photos. And they’ll even be digital so she won’t have to store some big album that who knows what you do with when you’re 36. Though, when she’s 36, she’ll probably tell me my thumb drive is stupid or whatever. This is what parents are supposed to debate about, right? How best to capture every moment of childhood without seeming completely crazy… Right?)
Anyway, 36 is pretty good. I can’t complain. Well, I can. About my hip. Sitting in this chair typing this long thing has made it sore again. I’d better get up and stretch. Just, don’t judge me, Dear Journal, when I waddle around for the first few steps like an old man. It’s hell getting old. (But not everything!)