people my age

A couple of years ago I was at, of all places, the McDonald's Playplace, watching my children run and climb. Sitting next to me on the bench was a woman who appeared to be about 75 years old, watching her grandchildren. We were chuckling watching the kids get to know each other and doing funny things. The woman turned to me and said, "I love children. Children and old people. It's people your age I can't stand!" I wasn't offended at all. It made me laugh! I knew exactly what she meant!
Oh my god...I have her haircut!!!

We got into a conversation about how real children are. There is no pretense. Good or bad they are always their authentic selves! Older folks are often the same. They've seen all the posturing and attempts to impress that middle age brings and they're old enough to cut through all the BS. Yes, I know...as people get older they can be cranky or eccentric. Little children pick their noses and throw temper tantrums in public. When I say phony I don't mean completely without social etiquette or boundries.

The kind of phony I'm talking about is when people feel the need to impress with their cars, or home or how many activities they have their family involved in. I 'm not saying that all people between the ages of 30 and 65 are phonies. I just think that the pretentious factor peaks in most people around mid-life.

I've always been a fan of J.D. Salinger's book "The Catcher in the Rye." The main character, Holden Caulfield is all consumed by his view of the world as a place where qualities such as love and kindness have been overridden by the middle class version of “success”, which is based chiefly on the attainment of money and things. Holden desperately believes that basic human kindness is far more important than material wealth. As a teenager, I completely related to him and still do.

Sometimes I feel like a phony because I want nice clothes and furniture and wonder whether it's for me, or to impress others. (I think it's a combination of the two-but I'll save opening that can of worms for another day!)

Here is an interesting quote I found:

Holden is said to suffer from psychological problems because of his self-destructive behavior and his non-conformist attitudes. The “cure”, as implied in the novel, would be for Holden to give up his resistance to material gain and his adoration for non-judgmental, genuine human interaction. Perhaps the lesson to be learned from this classic literary character in regards to wealth, corruption and the American dream, is that no matter how many beautiful, expensive things one is surrounded by, true happiness can only be found from within.*

*A lesson I definitely want my children to learn!

That's why I love playing with my girls. They love me no matter how goofy I act. They don't care what kind of shoes I'm wearing or whether or not I have wrinkles on my face. I can be me and I let them be who they are!

I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. I know the teenage years will come all too quickly . Their pure spirits will begin to be influenced by what society thinks they should look like or dress like. It's inevitable. I only hope they can keep an innate sense of who they truly are and that they won't feel the need to live for what other people think. I want them to play by the rules. But not the rules the "phonies" live by.

I'll leave you with some of my favorite Holden Caulfield quotes:

“Lawyers are all right, I guess – but it doesn’t appeal to me,’ I said. ‘I mean they’re all right if they go around saving innocent guys’ lives all the time, and like that, but you don’t do that kind of stuff if you’re a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like a hot-shot. How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t”
"'It's full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddamn Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddamn cliques'"

"All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddamn horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them"

"You think if they're intelligent and all, the other person, and have a good sense of humor, that they don't give a damn whose suitcases are better, but they do. They really do"

I'm always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.

We're all phonies in one way or another. Holden is right. If you want to stay alive, you have to say the "right" stuff sometimes.

But remember, being genuine is a gift to yourself and to others...

"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

-William Shakespeare


Anonymous said...

I am such a phonie. I am actually a 65 year old bed ridden man.

hee hee you wish...


what did you get a McD's?

Feener said...

i like this post a whole bunch. I find it very difficult with the material things and wanting more, as i mentioned i think i live in the same area as you and a lot of friends are in a much better position than us...it is a constant battle to let this stuff get me down.

Mom on the Run said...

I love stuff. I'm a stuff slut.

Mom on the Run said...

In all seriousness, this is why we don't live in a subdivision. We live on a street with old people who don't give a crap. It does get to me sometimes, especially when hubby's parents bring their friends visiting from Nebraska around to "show off" all our houses and we look like the poor people because both of his siblings have fabulous houses decorated to the nth degree but are both well over half a million in debt.

Tickled Pink & Green said...

Love that Carrie Fisher quote too.

Somewhere Between Pinot and Pacifiers said...

I was having these thoughts after dealing with a certain "phony friend" and then happened to find your blog. Your post sums up my thoughts I was having exactly! I thought that the older I got, the easier it would be because I would not care as much. However; I am finding that to be the complete opposite.

Alexis Black said...

I used to be kind of jealous of my friends and relatives that had "more" and lived in "nicer" neighborhoods. Recently, I've gotten to know them more and have learned that the ones I was most envious of are the worst off. Trying to keep up "appearances" has led to depression, financial trouble and even divorce. So sad. I am pretty darn happy in my 30-year-old house on a not as popular street with hand-me-down furniture and 70's wallpaper to boot. It keeps it real for my husband and I, but most of all, for our kids.

I would suggest reading "How Much Is Enough?" It's undertones are religious, but even to the not-so-spiritual, it is thought provoking.

smartmom said...

You have the right idea. Your kids are so carefree,loving and accepting.Not to mention,very creative and spontaneous. I believe that you already have created a life for them that is so much more then"stuff"Kudos to you, I strive to be a mom like you:)

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

This was a great post, so so true.

I wish it weren't true, but it is.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. It was like you were reading my mind.

BOOPSIE said...

What I admire about you is your total honesty. You make others feel good by admitting that you do have a desire for material things and at times have gone over your budget. You are very emphatic that you want to be a good example to your children. Well admitting your shortcomings and feelings to children is a good example. There are parents who stifle these natural emotions and make their children feel that their parents are so perfect that they cannot meet their expectations. We have been created with insecurities and imperfections and God is pleased when we are honest and not holier than thou. Thanks for being so candid.

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