Forty-Two, With Kids

[Disclaimer: I don’t know what’s up with the formatting of this piece. Apologies. I’m not managing to fix it.]

Turn over. Get up. Get out.

Turn over a new leaf. Get up in the morning. Get out of your house.

Do this, do that, be here and there and everywhere. Eyes on the prize. Reach for the stars. Fulfill your dreams.

The usual existential teenage angst. No one tells you that it stays in your head until you’re forty-two and have two kids. But it’s not like those cheap movie antics, where your hero looks in the mirror one day and realizes that he’s wasted his life. That’s not how it happens. No, our hero (in this case it’s me, but it could be anyone in my position) is aware every single day of his life of the simultaneously fast and slow progression of things.

How can things be both slow and fast? In case you’re one of those remarkable people who hasn’t noticed the strange tricks time plays on you as you age, I’ll just point to one activity that I can guarantee works this way in 97% of the cases. Sex. When you’re having sex – assuming you’re not looking at the clock, and if you are, you’re probably not having as much fun as you should be – you can experience seconds as minutes and minutes as seconds and everything gets jumbled up, especially in those final moments, when you feel yourself tightening in and shooting out and flexing and curling in all at the same time.

Not that I have much sex anymore, but that’s how I remember it, and it’s not something you forget.

My children sharpened me. They made me smarter. But that doesn’t prevent me from wanting to cuff them on the back of the head some days. Or telling them they should shut the hell up because I want to relax. This is the sort of thing I think about, and feel guilty over, and repress.

Repression isn’t supposed to be healthy. Maybe that’s why my stomach hurts all the time.

It only occurred to me this morning that I was having a midlife crisis. Not in that apparently fun and conventional way. I don’t have the money to buy a big car to compensate for things I might need to compensate for. I’m not attractive enough to go out and have affairs with younger people. My midlife crisis involved sitting with my kids and watching recordings of TV shows I watched when I was a kid but that have been updated to modern times.

You wouldn’t believe Sesame Street if you tried to watch it today.

Then again, when I found some clips of Sesame Street from the 80s, I couldn’t believe it either. Trippy stuff. Catering to parents on acid and kids who didn’t suffer from epilepsy.

I have a buddy, a correctional officer, meaning a prison guard, who tells me about the kids in his unit. He keeps joking with my boys, telling them he’ll see them at work one day. I don’t think it’s really funny. I want to punch him a lot of the time. Since he doesn’t have kids, I wonder if maybe he really doesn’t get it. If he’s that dumb. He could be.

Part of my midlife crisis is realizing how little patience I have for people. I don’t read anymore. I look at headlines on my cellphone. And I roll my eyes and I know that everything is still screwed up and that the color of everyone’s crap is pretty much the same.

Come to think of it, I wonder whether doctors have started comparing the color of stool samples from contemporary and past patients? They just found some preserved popcorn from Ancient Egypt a while ago. What about some preserved feces? I bet the color changes over time. I bet we’re way grosser today than we were. Although with all the vegans and healthy eaters out there, maybe on average we’re better than we once were.

I think it’s my boys’ fault that I think about this stuff. They’re in that stage where they find everything about the toilet hilarious.

I remember when I was a teenager, I had the consolation that I would be cool one day. I knew it, in my core. In my bones. I was right, too. But now… I’m not sure if I’ll be a good old person. I think I may just be crotchety. Gruff. I’m already saying things like “back when I was a kid.” I’d rather stay in this midlife crisis if it means I don’t turn into that kind of person, who tells kids off for talking too loudly on public transportation. But I’m pretty sure that I have no way of stopping time and going backwards.

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4 thoughts on “Forty-Two, With Kids

  1. It’s that fork in the road, grow wise or grow old. Haul your youth behind you and choose before it’s chosen for you. The format reminded me of a sonnet, but with out the restriction of meter and rhyme, which is to say, I enjoyed the read and relating to being 40.

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