5 Things That Make Me Feel Older Than I Actually Am

by Karen Johnson
Originally Published: 
Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images

Being 38 means I am closer to 40 than I am to 30. Or even to 35, if we want to get really math-specific. It means I don’t get carded anymore. Like EVER. And that although I can still “party” if I amp up on coffee and avoid dairy and gluten all day, well, let’s just say there’s a reason “party” is in quotes here.

I know 38 isn’t old. I am still recognizable by high school friends when they find me on Facebook, despite an extra wrinkle (or four). My kids are still young. Hell, I still wipe their butts on occasion and cut up their hot dogs so they don’t choke. So how come I feel old? Is this just what parenthood does to a person? Well, whatever it is, it sucks, and I blame it on the following things that make me feel older than I am.

1. Kids’ lingo (and also, me using the word “lingo”).

Kids, I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING. Here’s what a text from me, to a friend, might look like:

Hey! I am running about 10 minutes late. I’ll be there ASAP. What can I bring?

vs. a text from a teenager:

y u late

Ummm, what happened to words? And what’s with the excessive use of acronyms? BRB. CYT. PAL. GOAT. We have to crack a new code every time we communicate with a person born in the 21st century. Remember when we just had J/K and WTF? I mean, I like clever abbreviations and memory tricks as much as the next guy. Nothing better than “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” for memorizing the order of the planets, amiright? (But there again, Pluto is apparently a “dwarf planet” now, so this little ditty doesn’t even work anymore. See? OLD.)

And its not just acronyms. We have to translate new phrases too. “Cool” is gone. Now shit is “lit” and “turnt” or “Gucci” (which they don’t capitalize despite it being a proper name and ugggghhh I just sprouted a new gray hair). “I’m weak” means “that’s funny” and “hundo p” = 100%.

And now my brain hurts.

2. Kids’ use of technology vs. my “use” of technology (and also, my excessive use of quotes in this article).

I’m still over here, on Facebook and email all day, which, I’m told, are obsolete in the younger crowd. Seriously? They don’t even use email anymore?! Didn’t email just come out like 10 years ago? Okay, maybe not, but I remember getting my FIRST email address in college. How is it already old news?

Kids today are using apps that we don’t even know about. The fact that they even call their phones “phones” is comical, because when’s the last time you saw a teenager talking on one? They can’t fathom the idea that at one point, thanks to a smart fella named Alexander Graham Bell, telephones existed for talking. And only for talking. They weren’t tiny computers in one’s hand. Mind-blowing, right, kids?

And how about the way they “watch TV?” Do your kids scroll through cable channels to “see what’s on?” Nope. Between smart TVs with apps like YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Netflix, they have instant access to whatever they want to watch, whenever they want to watch it. And if, by chance, they do see that their favorite movie or TV show is on cable, they’ll just DVR it to watch later. So when I find myself mindlessly scrolling through the channels at 10 p.m., looking for something to fall asleep in front of and cursing the Food Network because “Chopped” isn’t on, I remember that I actually DO have other options. (And then I consider waking my kids up so they can help me.)

3. Not knowing who is famous anymore.

I grew up loving awards shows and watched them religiously, well into my adult years. The Oscars, The Emmys, The Golden Globes, The SAG Awards, and The Grammys. I watched them all, eagerly anticipating what new fashion choice an actress would make, who would show up dating whom, and what acceptance speeches I’d hear. And even now, as a busy and exhausted mom, I still try to DVR and watch at least one per season, often only catching the last few main awards.

But frankly, I am out of the loop on who’s who, and this has never been more apparent to me than when I attempted to watch the Kids’ Choice Awards with my kids. Oh. My. WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE. As I watched my kids squeal with delight when Jace Norman, N.E.R.D. and JoJo Siwa all took the stage and had no idea who I was looking at, I felt old. And then when I said, “Where’s Justin Bieber?” and my kids said, “Who?” I died right there on my living room couch.

4. When my kids think old things are new.

Um, newsflash kids! Fuller House isn’t a new show. In fact, you know those funny moms named DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy? Yeah, I knew them back when they had bright pink lipstick and overall jeans and were kissing boys for the first time. Hard to imagine? Let me show you. I’ll just use this handy-dandy Google here. See? I know technology.

Also, “True Colors” wasn’t written for Trolls. And “Welcome to the Jungle” wasn’t originally on the Jumanji soundtrack. In fact, that’s not even the original Jumanji! The first one was about a board game. Like a game you played at the table, while interacting with other humans. In person. And it involved zero screens and technology. And even harder to fathom is this fun fact: The real original Jumanji story was from a BOOK. With pages that turned. Wild, I know.

5. The calendar (and math).

Remember when we were growing up and it was fun to do throw-backs to the ’60s and ’70s? We all wore braids in our hair and bell-bottoms and drew peace signs, having zero concept of what the peace-sign movement was really about before we were born. It probably pained our parents and made them feel geriatric to see us make a mockery of their teen years, but we were clueless. Well, I now know the sting of watching the decade of my teen years glide ever so gracefully into the “oldies” category. And the shock of accepting that the ’90s was not, in fact, like 10 years ago.

It’s not that I’m terrible at math. It just seemed so hard to believe. Did Friends really premiere 24 years ago? Was this year’s high school graduating class really born in 2000? Was my 20-year high school reunion actually this past June?!

Impossible. But true, apparently.

All of these smack-me-in the face epiphanies have, over time, worn me down. Sadly, it’s no longer a shock to hear Boys II Men on the oldies station. Or to see Friends re-runs on Nick at Nite, which used to be reserved for the shows of our parents’ youth, like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.

Because, I guess it’s time to face the facts. I’m getting older. But girlfriends, I’ll still dance all night in my kitchen. Even if it is to the Spice Girls. And even if I picture their MTV video while I do it and reminisce about when VH-1 was new and exciting. And even if I pull a muscle. Damnit, I’ll pop some Advil and get my ass back up if it kills me. I mean, I’m only 38.

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