I'll just put this out there -- I haven't been doing well with turning 40. The email I sent to my family saying that my one birthday wish was to not have to endure any old jokes? Yeah, that was a real thing. A real thing that apparently none of them read.
The person giving me a hard time has been Lil E. He already thought it was hilarious to put a significant quiver in his voice, shake his hands over an imaginary cane and say old-goodies like, "Ehhh, sonny?" and "Dagnabit!" It was funny for a while. Then just fine. And finally, I asked him to stop.
"It hurts my feelings," I explained. He couldn't get it. "I feel fabulous and in a great place in my life. And I'm not thrilled about this age's number. So I want to focus on the good part -- how wonderful I feel. And also how pretty I am. Let's focus on how pretty I am."
He apologized. He can't even fathom what 40 means and I know this. In kindergarten, he announced that he loved being six so much he DID NOT want to turn seven. Until I mentioned that would mean not getting the piles of Lego sets he usually unwraps after parties and then he was completely fine with his birthday being eleven months away. Still, he tried to relate.
A few nights later at dinner, we were talking about my birthday, the party my mom was throwing me, what I was excited about.
"I wish the Not Boyfriend could be here to celebrate, though," I said. He'd be leaving for National Guard training the day of my party and coming home the day of his own 40th. No birthday celebrations in person for us this year. It wasn't making the transition into the next decade any easier to have my man out of reach. "That makes me a little sad."
Lil E cocked his head compassionately, smiled and said brightly, "Don't worry, Mommy! You have lots of birthdays left to celebrate!"
I smiled. It was sweet of him to say. But he wasn't done.
"...since you are only going to be TWENTY-SEVEN!"
And then he winked as if I wasn't clear on how he was choosing to un-hurt my feelings about all the previous teasing. He followed that up with a chipper, "You should really enjoy the last days of being...TWENTY-SIX!"
He said it loudly, drew out the number like he he was making sure the Russian spies next door heard every word and would cancel their mission, foiled by the Not-Forty-Year-Old one thin wall away. Well done, 007-1/2, I thought. Kind of well done.
One day, if life goes as it should, he will call me up and tell me how he feels about his 40th birthday. Maybe he'll remember how ancient he thought I was and that looking back on pictures, he realizes how youthful -- and pretty -- I was at this age. And for a few more days, this age is blissfully 39. Or 27. However you look at it.
To enjoy them, as the boy who didn't want to turn 7 suggested, we made a list of words that could describe 40. All beginning with the letter F.
You can see my optimism -- reframing, my therapist calls it -- in the first three that I chose.
Lil E interrupted with his own and it delighted me.
Then he followed it up with a word that hit a little too close to home. Or the chin. One that made the shaking hand over the invisible can reach confidently for the tweezers.
Furry (like Chewbacca)
Oh yes, he added in that last part and asked me to please write it down. And spell it correcty.
Next came tangential F-words that I was obligated to write down.
Fruit & Fruity
I countered with something less first-grade.
He ended it all with one of his own.
Why not? Better than flippy-offy. Especially at your own goofy but somewhat well-intentioned kid.
I'm not sure what to do with all that exactly, except laugh. No, not at him with his insistence that I am steps away from requiring a walker. Not even at my parents who have all kinds of jokes to chuckle over in the car and with their friends.
I can laugh at myself, for wanting to see myself and this time as FABULOUS! and FUN! and FIERCE! but really being mostly fuzzy (OK, furry) about it all. It's a number. A number I don't love. But myself and this time, I do love.
I just won't be laughing too loudly. Or around my son. Nahhh, I will let him keep *wink*winking* and telling me in an exaggerated voice how PRETTY! and FRESH! that TWENTY-SIX is.