“I’m Not a Baby!”

The previous night’s Super Bowl party came up over lunch. The boys shared a few things that they liked, talked about food and asked — again — why the Steelers lost. (Sloppy play does not lead to winning Super Bowls.) They talked about their friends, wanting to play with those friends again and, as happens with my children, bits and pieces of their evening came to light.

(Name) called me a baby,” LittleBrother said as he took another bite of his sammich.

I paused, mid-bite. “What?” He repeated himself. I looked at FireDad.

What did you say to (name),” FireDad asked.

I’m not a baby! I’m a big boy!” He smiled, white bread sticking through his teeth.

He got some hugs from us. Why a nine year old has to call a three year old a baby, I’m not really sure. But the fact that my little, er, big boy was confident enough in himself to set the record straight made my heart swell with pride. He didn’t come running upstairs with tears in his eyes. He didn’t punch the kid in the face. He didn’t send his older brother after the kid. He just stated the truth: He’s not a baby.

I could really use to swipe some of that confidence from my youngest child.

Probably at the exact same time some kid was picking on my precious LittleBrother downstairs at the Super Bowl party, I was getting the same riot act upstairs. That’s right. I was getting teased for being the youngest in the room as well. (Except that I wasn’t; FireDad is a year younger than me. No one said a word to him.)

“Were you even alive when that movie was made?”

“You do know who Guns N’Roses is, don’t you?”

“Oh, I didn’t realize you weren’t even 30 yet.”

I don’t know on what planet three or five or even ten years makes a lot of difference as an adult, but apparently it does. And while I would never dare to tease my friend who is turning 40 this year for “being old,” it’s apparently okay to tease me for “being young.” Because I had control over when I was conceived. Or when my parents met or when they were conceived. Or when The Bad News Bears was actually made the first time around.

I get that I’m young. I turn 30 in April, and in the Grand Scheme of Aging, it is young. But I don’t see why my age needs to be constantly brought up, rehashed and poked fun of by friends and strangers alike. Making fun of my young age negates all of the accomplishments I have made in those few short years. Making fun of my age dismisses all of the things I have been through to arrive at this point in my life as a whole person who happens to be proud of herself, proud of her journey. Making fun of my age takes me back to the days when I struggled with age, and doing the right thing and not being who I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be her. I already try to beat back the ghosts of failure on a daily basis; they don’t need help haunting me by people who are supposed to be my friends.

I know it doesn’t help that I look young either, but I’m not about to start donning the clothes that my Grandmother wears just to get people to show me a little respect. My Grandma is a fashionable lady, but it’s not my style. I’m also not going to wish away my healthy skin. If you want me to point out my gray hairs, I can as they are quite numerous, but the truth is that I’ve had those since I was 18 years old. I’ve always been an old soul, I suppose. Maybe people would be less likely to make fun of my age if I let my hair go gray. Or if I drew in deep wrinkles. Or if I wore granny style clothes. But probably not.

If this had been the first occurrence with friends, maybe I would have shrugged it off and it wouldn’t be nagging me two days later. But it wasn’t. And if random new people I meet in my life balk at the fact that I have two kids until they learn my age, maybe I wouldn’t mind. And if I wasn’t asked if I’m old enough to drive. Or vote. Or have a drink. And if people didn’t just assume that it’s okay to flip ageism and use my young age against me, I might have just gone back to watching commercials and bemoaning my teams’ march toward The Big Loss. But I have four different drafts of this post, having written and saved them at four different times last year. People just keep pushing the age thing. And for the life of me I can’t figure out why it’s not okay to disrespect an older woman but it’s okay to disrespect a younger one. In public. Talk about putting me on the spot. Let’s just be thankful my anxiety is in an okay place these days. Younger me wasn’t able to handle things like that.

But I didn’t really defend myself on Sunday evening. I blinked back a tear or two, driven to the brink of frustration that my age had come up again. I didn’t point out my accomplishments. I didn’t point out the hell I have been through in those thirty years — overcoming an eating disorder, the grief associated with relinquishment, three pregnancies that all put my life in danger, postpartum depression that did the same, starting a new life in a new place, various job hells and so on. I didn’t point out that I may not have been born when x-movie or x-song was made, but I also wasn’t alive when Handel, Mozart or Beethoven were around, but I still know and appreciate music from their eras. I didn’t realize it was a prerequisite to have been alive when something was made to know of and appreciate or like it. But I said nothing. I eventually made a quip about kicking one of the almost 40 year olds in the shin and something about shattering his old leg, but it didn’t feel right. That’s not who I am. And I regretted saying it immediately. Because 40? Is still so young.

I refuse to wear a nametag that says: “I’m (almost) 30, have accomplished more than most of you while still maintaining a youthful look so STUFF IT.” That’s not who I am either. I simply respect others for their place in life — younger than me or older — and am silly enough to expect it in return. So I’m going to just have to reinvest in some thick skin, remind myself that it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown as I paste that smile on my face and take a confidence lesson from my youngest son. Because I am amazing. I am accomplished. I am beautiful. And, yes, I am young and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. I own my beauty and, darn it, I’m going to own my age too. And I don’t need the approval of the Age Police to be who I am, inside and out.

We're Not Babies, via Instagram app

I may be young, but I’m not a baby.

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The “New” and “Improved” Hungry, Hungry Hippos Is Crap

When I was growing up, I desperately wanted my very own Hungry, Hungry Hippos game. Despite having a wide selection of games in our game closet, I never got my lusted after, multi-colored, marble-munching hippo game. I got to play it at friends’ and family members’ houses, but I never had my very own version to snap, munch and crunch marbles as much as I wanted.

So when Christmas time came around last year and the Grandparents started asking what the boys wanted, I happily replied, “Hungry, Hungry Hippos!” I even convinced LittleBrother that he wanted the game on a trip to the store. (May I add that I love the Power of Suggestion that parents still have over young children?) When he opened the game, I was so excited to add it to our game library. My very own Hungry, Hungry Hippos! Er, uh, LittleBrother’s very own. You know.

When we finally got around to our first round of family game night after Christmas, we made a horrific discovery: They changed Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

Now, granted, I expected a few changes. As an example, the “board” is now a bright turquoise blue as opposed to the original red. And the original was sturdier than the crazy, cheap, nearly fragile plastic of today’s version. And? The original? Fit in the box. That’s right. To put the new version away in the box in which it came, you have to take it apart. And it never really fits back in the box the right way, so you not only have to take it apart but you kind of have to shove it back in the box at odd angles to get the dang thing to close and fit on the shelf. Know what that creates?

Broken hippos.

Broken Freaking Hippo

To be fair, this was our first broken hippo in just under a month. I expected these awful, cheap excuses for hippos to break within days of our first game. Nope. We made it almost a month. To be fair, FireDad was able to fix the hippo.

Time to Play!

But, let’s be honest, it shouldn’t come apart in less than a month… even when you’re playing a, uh, heated game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

By the way, guess whose hippo broke?

Fixing My Hippo

Yeah. Me. Figures.

And, by the way, the boys both love the game. I mean, it is still a fun game. So they want to play it. Constantly. Which means FireDad and I have to put it together. Constantly. And take it apart. Constantly. I think I’ve had my fair share of hippos despite my earlier denied years.

It’s probably because I’m so grumpy that the game I so longed for is now nothing more than a piece of crap. That’s right, I said piece of crap. How do you go from this awesome:

To this awful:

Then again, I guess the end of the 2009 Hungry, Hungry Hippos commercial does say, “Adult assembly required.” What it should say is this: “Adult assembly required because we changed the old version and this one sucks. In fact, you’re likely going to break this one and have to buy a new one. Which is our Grand Master Plan: Sell more hippos.”

The old commercial is better. The old game is better. In fact, like the kid in the original commercial, I win! Or I will. There are a few original versions on eBay, and I’m gonna win me one. So there, “Elefun and Friends.” Pfft.

Have you experienced the Hungry, Hungry Hippos disaster? Or do you have another old favorite that has been so drastically changed that it surely is a National Tragedy? Warn us. Now.