Confusion Corner: New Perspectives on Age

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March 26, 2015

11:34 PM

You know spring has arrived when you find yourself at the Farmers Market in Colonial Williamsburg on a Saturday morning. While I made my way through a herd of diverse dog breeds to the pastry tent to check out a pineapple upside-down cake that was calling my name, I found myself noticing all the signs of new life that come with the season.

I noticed the blossoming petals on the tree branches that framed Merchants Square, but as I walked even further into Colonial Williamsburg, I saw a much less graceful example of natural life making an appearance that morning.

It came in the form of a three-year-old boy attempting a sprint for about five steps, falling and then getting back up to start the process all over again while his pants and diaper rested  snugly around his ankles. Behind him, his mother made the situation even more conspicuous by running after him in horror, whispering as loudly as can reasonably be called a whisper, and scolding him for his actions over and over, as if her voice would cover his plump, pale butt cheeks.

I gave the kid a score of a perfect ten for the duck and weave he managed between each toddle to dodge Mama Bear. Walking on and observing the other fully clothed toddlers, elementary schoolers, tweens and melancholy teens, I began to feel my age.

As a young adult, I am young enough to remember my childhood, but now, I can also understand why my parents, and people my parents’ age, looked and continue to look at me like I am crazy.

Living in an environment where I am constantly surrounded by and interacting with students who are my age or older, I cannot help but see children as a foreign species. They simultaneously intrigue and worry me because I have to wonder if I looked or acted like them at their age.

As a young adult, I am young enough to remember my childhood, but now, I can also understand why my parents, and people my parents’ age, looked and continue to look at me like I am crazy.

While I may sometimes have urges to streak the Sunken Garden in the snow, I also hear my mother’s voice telling me to wear shoes while I do it. It can be annoying at times, but then again, wearing shoes while streaking in snow makes so much sense.

My understanding of my parents has strangely increased, and every day I believe more and more that they do understand me. I no longer have to stare out of my window on a rainy night with Celine Dion’s “All By Myself” playing in the background.

I actually have urges to pick up the phone, call one of my parents and ask them to tell me a story about when they were my age, or to just talk about life. It seems like being a young adult is about having a consciousness that is able to build a bridge between different age groups, young and old, providing a better understanding of people and life.

To be a college student is so much more than getting a bachelor’s degree and figuring out the path you are going to take for the rest of your life. It is also the time when most of us are young adults. As a young adult, I feel a need to bask in my age. This is my prime. There is a slim chance I will be this physically and mentally awesome in years to come. I need to take time to understand myself, and the people around me, through my current age. Perspective emerges from our beginnings, our experiences and the places we are in our lives at the moment, as well as the age that we are.

Jillian Bates is a Confusion Corner columnist who streaked the Williamsburg farmers market as a child.

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  • Jillian Bates