FOGO: Fear of Getting Older
My family and friends will be shocked when I tell you that I don’t really enjoy my birthday. I always use the excuse that it is overshadowed by Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and National Cheesesteak Day. But the truth is, I just don’t like getting older.
I know, I know. No one likes getting older, and the alternative is even less appealing. Whatever. It’s all a justification. My body aches, I’m not as physically strong as I used to be, and I tire more easily. Getting older stinks. And eventually, I am going to be faced with that less appealing alternative.
For me, this was not a middle aged revelation. This was something about which I thought when I was as young as 16. My mother will tell you that is because I had such a wonderful childhood with the best parents in the world. She is somewhat right. More importantly, that is a line that I now throw at my almost 15-year-old.
In our home, we make birthdays a big deal for the boys. They get more than a day, as they are guaranteed a birthday weekend, and a few of them are known to take advantage of our celebratory nature and stretch birthday celebrations out for an entire week. They get tickets to sporting events, meals in their favorite restaurants, large family gatherings, and parties. Many parties. Yet, like me, my child who is about to turn 15 does not want to get older.
He claims to have a litany of reasons for hating his birthday. Yet ultimately, like me, he does not want to get older. He likes the minimal responsibility and good time that comes with being a child. He does not want his life to rush past him because there is never enough time to enjoy every experience. And he doesn’t want anyone around him to get so old that they are faced with the not at all appealing alternative of death.
Of course, as his parent, I am obligated to make him feel better about growing up. I talk to him about all that he has yet to experience. I tell him that the happiest time in my life is when I had my own babies. I tell him that one of the happiest times in my parents’ lives was when their grandchildren were born. We talk about all that he hopes to accomplish in life.
But he doesn’t buy any of my shtick anymore than I do. He rolls up into a ball, asking me to cuddle him. And I know that I don’t want him, or his brothers, to get any older either. I want to freeze them in these moments. So I am trying to invent a time-freeze machine. That will alleviate all of our anxieties.
(Photocredit to the defunct show Absolutely Fabulous, which is absolutely fabulous.)