Women are always wishing they looked younger. I know this because it’s a thing in our society not to ask a woman her age. Plus, now that I’m in my thirties, we may still celebrate our birthdays at the club, but there’s a new tinge of, “we’re celebrating to keep from crying.” You know?
Yes, I look young. And I know this about myself because I get IDed to buy kombucha, and I’ve been mistaken more than once for one of the students at a middle school I work at.
Since everyone’s always saying things like, “Oh! I thought you were in high school!” Or, “Oh, I thought you were the babysitter!” I now preface most conversations as follows: “Hi, I’m Audrey. I look younger than I actually am. Sorry if that seems random, but I like to get it out of the way.”
I was 26 when my son was born, which means I wasn’t a teenager, but I was still young by today’s standards. I’m especially young by Park Slope, Brooklyn standards, where this 30-year-old mama might as well be a twelve-year-old stripper.
I’m kidding, but not really. But seriously, I’m cool with looking young. If things keep going my way, when I’m 60 and I look 45, well then damn it, it was all worth it.
On top of that, I really don’t care if you think I’m this kid’s babysitter. In fact, I’d prefer you think that when he’s acting COMPLETELY insane, hysterically screaming “I want coconut,” and sobbing like a possessed psych-ward patient the entire torturous, sweaty walk home.
Plus, if there are any serious misunderstandings, I have his birth certificate and a state ID to prove it. That and the memory of pushing his almost 9-pound body through my baby chute into an inflated pool of water, and when he got stuck, jumping out of the water with his head protruding between my legs, and pushing the rest of him out on all fours. Like the mammal that I am.
My issue is that I’d rather no one treat me like a child. Because my job, motherhood, is the most important one there is, and I don’t like being disrespected in front of my kid.
Like the time I was twenty minutes late dropping my son off at school, and his summer camp teacher, to whom I was only recently acquainted, stepped authoritatively into my personal, facial-space-zone and said the following sentence, speaking each word slowly and deliberately:
“You will not be late again.”
She must have thought that the slower she spoke the more seriously I would take her.
It totally worked.
And, being the non-confrontational person that I am, I stuttered and sputtered and finally, after an awkwardly long pause, replied “I-I-I will try my, my very best.”
I was embarrassed. And the assistant teacher who witnessed the altercation was clearly embarrassed, too, as evidenced by her anxiously laughing and awkwardly backing away.
As I finished my sentence, the teacher, who shall remain nameless, bellowed:
“No. You will not TRY. You WILL NOT be late again.”
I struggled to form a thought, but I was shaking and could barely catch my breath.
“You don’t have to do that.” I finally exhaled.
Shortly afterwards, I walked around the corner and burst into tears.
Did I mention before that I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn? If you know the area, you know that the preschools around here, like the almond milk lattes and my rent, cost an arm, a leg and two butt cheeks.
Not to be snotty, but, um, isn’t the point of expensive things that everyone is supposed to be really nice to you when you buy them? Like, the reason you go to expensive restaurants is because the maître d’ kisses your ring and the waiter wipes your mouth with a silk serviette between bites.
Isn’t that what happens at expensive restaurants?
My point is, we might be on scholarship but we still paid big money for this school, so it’s extra upsetting that this teacher was so disrespectful to me.
And it leads me to wonder: If it had been 41 years old, like all the other rich fancy-pants folks who send their kids here, would she have still yelled at me like a child? If I hadn’t looked like a cast member on MTV’s “Teen Mom,” would she have chastised me in a way I haven’t experienced since 9th grade algebra?
Hard to say. But I have seen other parents walk in, later than me, with barely a glance. Multiple times.
I have many more examples like this. Like the time the ER nurse gave me an hour-long lesson on “why your child must always ride in a car seat,” while I nodded patiently.
Let me tell you, there are few things worse than a Mr. Obvious, the main reason being that they make you feel STUPID.
I know that lady! I’m here because my son fell on his head, not for a lesson in child-rearing. And I know you said I looked sixteen, but you’ve already been corrected. You can speak to me like an adult now, thank you.
My point is, if you look your age, embrace it. Don’t let that wrinkle make you sad. Because getting older is not all bad. And one of the biggest perks is that people are less likely to question your choices. They’re more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt, and less likely to believe that you’re a complete and total idiot.
It must be nice.