When Your Parents Get Old

oak tree

The first time you realize your parents might be getting old, is when they forget the name of their favorite snack.

It’s subtle, and doesn’t bother you that much. It just creeps up a little bit.

“Honey, what is the name of that cheese snack that has the fish on it?” your mom might say.

“Do you mean ‘Goldfish?'”

And she’ll nod and say, “Oh of course that’s what I meant to say.”

Then you quickly forget about it. After all, everybody forgets something.

The realization doesn’t happen again until they forget where Best Buy is located. And you try to mention to your father, “You know dad, its always been here. You’ve been able to find it before, why can’t you remember it now?”

And while you’re in the car, trying to give directions, he’ll complain about how your music is too loud, and it’s distracting him, even though it’s actually his album of ABBA that’s playing from the stereo.

Then as soon as you go into the large blue building that envelopes you in a space that is filled with buzzing gadgets and white noise, the man who used to advise you on technology, is now asking you for help.

It’s okay though. Because really, technology is changing all the time. You think to yourself, “Well, not everyone knows what Android’s are.”

So you push back the idea again. Because it’s a little bit terrifying, and a little bit sad. That maybe, just maybe, they’re not the same person anymore.

But after you’ve been away for a few months, and you come back to visit, it hits hard. Really hard.

Your mom calls you by a different name.

Your dad yells at you for not feeding the cat, when in actuality, you just did.

You have to yell the McDonald’s order out from the passenger seat, because your parents take too long to order and end up forgetting what, “That thing with cheese and tomatoes” is called. Which by the way, is a single cheeseburger.

Probably the worst is when your mom can’t go out and do the one thing that she loves the most: running. She doesn’t mention it to you, because she’s embarrassed and knows you’ll harass her about it, but you can’t help but notice that she’s stopped putting on her florescent Nike tennis shoes early in the morning.

And you don’t want to ask. It’s the very. last. thing. you want to ask. But you have to — it’s not a choice.

“Mom. Why aren’t you running anymore?” you’ll ask when she pours you orange juice for breakfast (which by the way, you’ve told her since elementary school that you despise that stupid citrus drink.)

And she won’t look at you. No, she’ll go back to the kitchen counter and start buttering the toast. But she’ll mutter softly:

“The doctor told me I shouldn’t run anymore.”

Then that’s that. Maybe you’ll ask her to expand, and she’ll say something about a bad hip and maybe needing surgery, and then you have to face reality.

Your friends around you are getting married and having children. You, yourself, are making new relationships and learning more about what you want in life, bit by bit.

And while your life is going on around you and you’re focused on your own thing — the two people that meant the world to you are now changing themselves. They are still the doting people that raised you, but they’re also the people that you’ll someday have to dote on, and someday. Someday, you will have to learn to live without.

But until then. You will hold their hand as you help them up the icy stairs to the shopping mall, and both of you will curse the establishment for being too cheap to put salt on the stairs — completely ignoring the fact that it really isn’t icy.

And you will explain to your parents that yes, times are changing and more people are getting tattoos, and there is such a thing as liking too many Facebook photos in one sitting.

And when you bring your mom to the doctor as she gets ready for her hip surgery, you will whisper in her ear that you love her, and that no amount of time will ever change that.


Why I stopped buying textbooks (and gave higher education the middle finger)


I remember the first time I bought textbooks as I got ready for my first semester of college. After saving a couple hundred dollars from my summer job, I proudly searched the depths of Amazon and purchased “collegiate” textbooks, that ensured my novice mind that I was on the path to bigger and better things.

However, it was sometime between my first and second semester of my freshman year, that I had an inkling that I was being duped.

The mindset went something like this. But probably with more curse words, snarky eye rolls and less than clear language:

  • “Wow. I can’t wait to learn something and better myself. These books will be of great assistance.”
  • “Okay. Well you can sit down and memorize something you’re not going to remember, or you can do something more productive like sit on Facebook.”
  • “This is dumb. This book is dumb. It will be out of context in a few years. My professor doesn’t even reference it and I’m out $500. Not buying a single book next semester.”
  • Next semester: “Hey okay, let’s buy these books.”

It’s a vicious cycle where I overestimate my capabilities, and believe that I’m actually going to do hours of assigned reading everyday, when in actuality, my attention span is too short and I’m too darn lazy.

I used to think that I was really unintelligent, especially when I saw some people around me immersed in their textbooks, and reciting verbatim the content they read. I wallowed as I attempted to read page after page, but my mind was always on something else.

For my sophomore year, I decided to say “screw you” to my professors and to Amazon, and decided to keep that $500 in my wallet.

In each of my classes, my professors told us to go out and purchase the required text. I just smirked and went on with my life.

When they said, “follow the syllabus and do the assigned reading,” for me it meant, “go do something you actually want to do and screw this.”

And I did. I did a lot of things. I worked on a political campaign, met and gave a speech before Michelle Obama, wrote a ton of news articles (and then got promoted to editor), started up an electronic magazine and led an LGBTQIA group on campus.

I was busier than all of my friends and often didn’t have time to eat or sleep. And yet — I didn’t do a single bit of homework I deemed unnecessary and I definitely didn’t read the assigned text. (Instead, I used the money for textbooks and received subscriptions to some newspapers and read those all day.)

I still hold a 3.5 and above GPA. Because well, we can’t get too crazy now, can we?

Now it’s not to say that I think higher education is bad.  It’s just that for the price that I’m paying — I wish there was a way to serve the needs of different personalized learning experiences. By the time you get into college, it’s pretty hard to stray from your learning habits.

And I know many people disagree with my analysis of college (I’m assuming my friends who are education majors are cringing at this moment.) That is completely fine. What works for me, doesn’t work for everyone else. I understand the importance of being a well-rounded person and having the ability to sit down and read, and analyze information, and all of that other stuff.


It’s not for everyone.

And I’ve learned that it’s not for me.