Friday, December 12, 2008

A Birthday Reflection

Today is my birthday. I might be at that age where I am too old to ask how old I am, but I like to let people know my age. I look a lot younger than I am and have had that issue for a long time. While it is a blessing, it's an interesting challenge at times. When I was 18 years old my 12 year-old sister got an adult menu at a restaurant while I got the kid's menu. It was for kids 12 and under. So at 18 I looked 12 to some people. At 25 I was getting searched by airport security and they asked my age. They said they had to ask because if I was 14 I would need my parents to come with me. So at 25 I looked 14 to someone. Gained 2 years of aging in 7 years and still 11 years younger than I was. I did enjoy going back to college at 27 because I could be the "non-traditional" student who didn't look non-traditional. In fact, my first day two guys in my speech class thought I was a freshman. Gained 4 years in 2 years, still looked 9 years younger. A friend I met in college the second time around had two kids and also was my age. It angered me when people would talk about her and say "how old is she?" She looked young, too.

It's not a bad thing to look younger, but I still deal with a lot of age discrimination. It's challenging being a parent. I've had a librarian lecture me about how to handle food allergies. Sometimes the doctors (and we've seen many) don't understand my knowledge behind my questions. And random people sometimes try to talk above me like I don't know what I'm doing with a little one. Sometimes I wish I could wear a badge saying "I'm older than I look, I have two degrees -- one in early childhood education. I have worked many jobs with kids and elsewhere."

When I was doing my student teaching, I made sure that the teachers I worked with knew that I was older and tried to emphasize it in a round about way to the parents by saying things such as, this is my second degree or I got my first degree in 1999. On my 30th birthday one of the teachers in the school asked me how old I was, and it turned out that I was two years old than her. I think she was a little embarrassed. It seems as though it wouldn't matter, but people treat people how they perceive them. Age is one of those things that seems to be discriminated no matter how old you are, but if you look younger it takes a little longer to catch up.

Oh, if you haven't figure it out yet -- I'm 32.

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