FILED IN: Parenting

What’s a señor citizen?

“How old do you hafta be to be a señor citizen?”

The funny thing about having kids — well, besides the crack about having a family is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain — is that they really do say the funniest things, sometimes.

“It’s not señor…that’s mister, like in Spanish…it’s senior, like in old people.”

And, after moving my parents into one of those 55+ adult communities last summer, my children had grown accustomed to seeing old people!

My son and his two oldest sisters spent nearly the entire car ride home on the day of the closing answering their grandfather with, “Si…si… señor,” or singing, “A senior has a first name, its S-C-A-R-Y!”

Typically, I would have scolded them for such an outspoken display of disrespect toward the elderly — something akin to, “It’s not nice to make fun of old people,” — but, I have a confession to make.  I’d had enough as well, and I merrily sang along and added a chorus of, “A senior has a second name, its B-I-T-C-H-M-O-A-N-A-N-D-C-O-M-P-L-A-I-N!”

I believe they’re still trying to figure that one out.

**the sound of incoming lighting bolt**

Bad form, I know.

But, come on…and be honest, now…haven’t you known, or come into contact with, at least one senior citizen who — capable of scaring the living daylights out of anyone with nasty weather-beaten look — has sworn you off of any thoughts of ever “getting that old?”

**the sound of silence in fear of retribution**

Well, I have and…specifically over the last twelve months…many, many times!

They’re all over the place!

On average, my parents’ new neighbors have been very pleasant and welcoming — offering everything from maintenance tips, dining options and favorite club activities to their availability at late night calls for assistance — and surprisingly enough…just plain, nice.

It’s like Stepford, for old people.

**ducking incoming bolt of lightning**

And I imagined my poor parents, who are normally very private and unaccustomed to being away from their grandchildren for more than one weekend, being pulled into a world of swinging latch keys and late night Viagra and Botox parties.

But, they’ve adjusted very nicely and fallen into a very comfortable routine.  So, my fears were soon…put to rest.

Until.

Soon after their closing, I met… **gulp** …she who shall be named (in the name of anonymity and in all propriety), “Crotchety!”

“Good morning!  My parents closed on their place this past weekend, but your offices were closed, so I bought my father back today to sign whatever he needs to sign.”

**staring straight ahead**

“Well, lucky him.”

Um…I don’t know about you…but, I am quite the Comeback Queen…after the fact.  I just stood there, in shock, as my father quickly answered (don’t forget to roll your r’s), “Yes…I em veh-airy lucky, to hev my daw-tehr to help me!”

**blank stare**

“Uh, yes…well…can you help us?”

**shrugging her Jaba-the-Hut-sized shoulders**

“It depends…some people are beyond help.”

Okay, I was tired, sweaty and now totally aggravated.  So, Crotchety’s attempts at humor left me feeling rather…um…sticky.

“I em, az you zay, bee-ond help, but I vant to git to my houze end fee-nish, zew that my grandkeeds can git home and go svimming.”

**looks over at four sweaty kids sitting on leather couch**

“And they’re awfully quiet…I like that…I like quiet children!”

End diz iz…

**clears throat**

I mean, and this is when I decided it would be better for me to just “walk away” and let my father handle it from here on in.

And as I turned the pages of the scrapbook left out on one of end tables in the waiting room (yes, even its pages seemed to look and smell very old) I watched as my father argued with Crotchety, for the next fifteen minutes, on matters of “association business” that she had no power over in the first place.

I found this out later, as we finished our business, with a much younger and more helpful associate.

“There, I believe your father signed everything he needs to and if there are any further questions, please feel free to ask Crotchety.”

**mumbling**

“I don’t want to.”

**blinking rapidly**

“Excuse me?”

**leaning in a little closer**

“Pleeeeeeze don’t make me talk that lady!”

**smiling a bit**

“Who…Crotchety?”

**whispering**

“Yes…she’s…well…very scary, ya’ know!?!”

**looks left, then right, and whispering**

“Yes, I know.”

The movers came early and set up my parents’ new bedroom set quickly.  We drew the shades, locked the doors and I loaded the kids into a sweltering minivan for the sixth time and I still had the long drive home, four very cranky kids and dinner to contend with.

“Be careful driving home…oh…and…SEE YOU THIS WEEKEND!”

I shouted (because his hearing is failing) and waved my father out of our driveway, shut the door, told my eleven year old that I needed to put my head down for a few minutes, and promptly fell fast asleep, waking only after my husband shoved a tall glass of orange juice in my face.

“Drink this!”

**clearing my throat**

“I’m sorry, but I feel so tired…and my legs hurt…and I’ve got a terrible headache…and my stomach is a bit sour…I haven’t pooped…or slept well…in days…and…”

**passing wind**

 “…I’ve been so gassy, lately!”

**eyes go wide**

GAH!! — DON’T TELL ME — YOU HEAR OLD PEOPLE, TOO!?!

That’s okay.  In another thirty years or so, it’ll all be over.

I’ll be…**gulp**…one of them!

And I won’t have to worry about coloring my hair, shaving my legs or buying a less-than-supportive bra and happily partake of a few discounts here and there…my own self.

If I live that long and my children don’t kill me, first!

But I’ll be damned if you’ll ever catch me acting old and wearing a muumuu…unless…it comes in red or purple, has a slit up both sides, is backless with a see-thru front, worn with a matching pair stiletto pumps and perhaps even a lacey pair of crotch-less underwear…super-sized!

Can you hear me, now!?!