Jean Croker Petke

The Excuse of Age

The Excuse of Age

Julie Rosenberg says, “Don’t use age as an excuse.”

She’s made me think — even ponder. Do I use age as my excuse? for doing or not doing? for speaking or not speaking?

I admit that age is sometimes my excuse for not doing things I no long find engaging — the nice-but-not-necessary things. Like going to another potluck luncheon, serving on another committee, getting roped into controversies I can’t change. Age has its advantages. I’ve been there, done that. Don’t need to do it again. It was important to me at one time, but no longer. I pass the buck to another generation.

However, age is not my excuse for not learning, for not accomplishing, for not using my creativity. Every day I’m reading, I’m writing, I’m practicing piano, and allowing my mind to forge ahead to things I’ve never done before. I create high tea for the children in my life, I create a Christmas stocking beyond anything the pattern suggested, I make clothes for stuffed animals, I write music.

But this age thing can work in the other direction as well. It’s so easy to stifle a little one, saying she’s too little to do that, or too young for this book, or that activity. Yes, we have to keep them safe, but not at the risk of not letting them try new things, or do things outside the norm. We adults are too quick to say, “That’s not how we do things.” Of course, the milk should stay in the cup, but we can create opportunities to pour and splash liquids, to allow the child to discover how liquids behave with no harm to anything or anyone.

We have to encourage children, no matter their age, to try, to experiment, to grow, to challenge. We can’t assume they’re not ready yet or they won’t understand. Of course they will, perhaps not on our level, but on their own level.

And we have to encourage older people to not give up before their time. Keep doing what they can do, and even push themselves to try more than they think they’re capable of.

Those of us in the middle are the encouragers — of both the younger and older people in our lives.

It’s always a balance between staying comfortable with what we know and what we can do, and pushing ourselves to grow beyond our comfort zone.

Complacency, no matter our age, is never a good thing. And age is never an excuse for not learning.

Until next Tuesday . . .