This one’s been around awhile and I still don’t get it. Heard it a few times as a kid. Never liked hearing it though because it usually meant I was doing something wrong-—like the kid at Kroger’s yesterday. He was tossing grapes into the silver pan of the produce weighing scale from his perch in a shopping cart about four feet away. They made a little clunking sound when they hit just right. Pretty nifty trick actually and for a five year-old, he had pretty good aim. His mom wasn’t too happy though. “Act your age!” she scolded as I passed by. “He is,” I smiled.
At six, Mozart was giving piano concerts and Shirley Temple was making movies. Pocahontas saved Captain James Smith when she was only 12. At 13, Anne Frank began her famous diary. Ralph Waldo Emerson enrolled at Harvard when he was 14. Joan of Arc led her troops against the English and Marco Polo began his expedition of Asia when they were–yup– just 17. So you tell me: Were they acting their age? Apparently, for them.
I was too, this morning, when the girl at Starbucks told ME to act MY age at the Drive-Thru. Granted, when she said, “What can I get for you today?” I did reply as fast as I could, “New knees, a winning lottery ticket, and two happy, well-behaved kids.” Then, I waited for what I knew would be a very long pause. “Excuse me?” she began again. “My speaker doesn’t seem to be working very well. I didn’t quite understand your order.” “A venti non-fat latte, please,” I said as succinctly as I could without giggling.
Look at it this way: if everyone acted their age, cities wouldn’t be conquered, symphonies composed or challenges created. There would also be a lot less laughter. Funny thing, though, Grandmother never told me to act my age. Maybe that’s because she never acted hers. I well remember the afternoon she strapped on her old tap shoes. She was 83 and had just discovered them in the garage. What a sight she was in that red-checkered shirt and baggy shorts, her white hair flying as she tried to demonstrate a ‘time step.” For the record, when Jonathan Swift was my age, he had just published, “Gulliver’s Travels.” Lilliputians? Seriously. Talk about acting your age. Ha! (Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” and speaks around the country about caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s). http://www.helen-hudson.com).