Thirty Going On Thirteen

18 Mar

One day, when I was around 11 years old, a little old lady came to the door collecting donations for cancer research. Or kidneys. Or something like that.

My mom answered the door and the little old lady said, “Hi, is your mom home?” And my mom said, “I’m the mom!” The lady was shocked and apologetic. My mom thought it was funny, though she didn’t take it to mean she actually did look like a child; she figured the old lady just assumed everybody under fifty was a kid.

But also, my mom didn’t really look forty. But what is forty supposed to look like. Now she’s almost sixty but she doesn’t look sixty. But again, what’s sixty supposed to look like?

I have a hard time telling people’s ages. I’m like that little old lady from twenty years ago..everybody between the ages of 16 and 40 look the same.

Someone who looks like a successful business woman could really be a teenage girl going to her first job interview. Or someone who looks like a kid could really be…oh I don’t know, a thirty year old mother of two!

But you can see why it’s hard to tell…


Do the above people (my brother and I) look like a trucker and a mother of two? Impossible to tell. We could easily be a teenaged couple hanging out at the park.

Even typing that feels wrong.

Or what about this picture?


A couple of carefree college gals? No, that’s my Dentist (who I wrote about here) and me! A successful dentist and business owner on the left and a mother to two boys on the right.

I walked RJ to school this morning. We got there just before the bell rang. He ran off with his little pals and I turned to walk home.

The bell rang and kids started swarming towards the building. I heard a teacher say, “The bell rang,” but since I knew she wasn’t talking to me, I kept walking.

But I kept hearing it: The bell rang! The bell rang! Excuse me! Hello!? The bell rang!

I turned around to see that she was actually looking at me! I was taken aback and stammered out something resembling, “Um, I’m just dropping my kid off,” and I kept walking.

Then I realized a teacher just mistook me for an elementary school student.


Granted, I was wearing a puffy jacket and earmuffs and sunglasses. I had just passed through a sea of actual children, many of whom were taller than me.

I’m confident that had this teacher been standing face to face with me, she would know me to be an adult. Because I don’t think I look anymore “fresh-faced” and “youthful” than the majority of my friends and acquaintances. A lot of it has to do with perception.

But it was still so odd.

Once, as I was shopping with my mom and RJ (JP wasn’t born yet), we stopped to visit with my aunt (who worked at the store). I can’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but my aunt’s coworker thought I was applying for a job at the store. She asked, “Are you even old enough to work here?” I responded with, “How old do you have to be?” She said sixteen. I was like, “Well I’m 27 but I’m actually not looking for a job right now.” She was shocked. She thought I was 14.

And that was up close and personal. Was it because of my pigtails (of which I am so fond)? Or was it because my mom was pushing the shopping cart which contained my toddler?

Just wow. I don’t mind if a random stranger thinks I’m younger, but can we please stick to age of majority?

Isn’t life funny?

One moment I’m feeling like an old woman, old enough to be step mother to an eighteen year old. And the next, I feel like a child, one who is stubbornly ditching school right in front of the teachers!

2 Responses to “Thirty Going On Thirteen”

  1. Barbara Y. March 24, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    I have a similar problem telling the age of people between about 13 and 45, but I bet that teacher was embarrased! Good story.

    • L.W. March 25, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

      Hopefully you won’t mistake a real 13 year old for 45 though…you will make her cry!

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