Isn’t it amazing how, no matter your age, you still find yourself in the sandbox? That metaphorical playground for society, or your own social circle? The one where “they” decide your status, as much as you think only you do… And while in there, you’re either blocking your eyes from the stinging sand that’s being flung in your face or you’re fighting off the hordes from filling your “deep hole to China” that took forever to dig and taking the only shovel in the pit? All the while, trying to maintain your “cool.” Yes, the sandbox is truly a metaphor for life…
One look south of the 49th parallel only confirms that even those who have reached the world’s pinnacle are very much playing in a sandbox. In the run-up to the US Presidential elections, it’s amazing how candidates for the leadership of the world’s most powerful country can act, well, totally insane, territorial, and like they’re on the island with Jack and Piggy from Lord of the Flies. I mean, Trump’s whole idea of building a wall is like barricading the sandbox from “infiltrators” and making sure that he doesn’t have to share his “shovel”. And (I can’t believe I’m going to say this) given his polish, Jeb Bush could’ve been a more qualified choice for the GOP ballot but he just couldn’t hold onto his cool against Trump’s golden blowout. No…I don’t believe we ever truly leave the sandbox…
As bewildered and confused as I can get when I find myself engaged in the sort of the behavior that I would equate with the happenings in an elementary school playground (“It’s my turn!” or “Oops! Did she hear me say that?” and “She copied MY outfit!”), I’m also concerned about the kind of sandbox that our kids are going to inherit: suicide bombings, being under high alert, curfews, and the sort of terror that one used to mostly see in the movies. Thankfully my boys are still at an age where they only actually fight over real toys and not any metaphorical ones…
Though well advanced and in my early forties, I feel like my own innocence, my swagger, my cool, is also dissipating (and quite frankly, under attack). Am I supposed to fight and try to hold onto it? Most days all I want to do is watch the politicos vying for power in House of Cards and the hordes fight in Vikings rather than navigate the social scene and fight off the hordes myself. I want to wear “Blublocker” sunglasses and block out the stinging sand, filter out the light, and climb out of the sandbox. Press pause on the fight? Peace out?
Me: Hey, pick me up at 8:30 tonight so we can go to my BFF’s birthday party dinner for 9pm.
Mr. Niceguy: OK. Usual gang tonight?
Me: Yes. I even got us all on the guest list! No waiting around outside. Just please don’t wear messy jeans…dress code is tidy jeans. And no sneakers…or purple docs. ***Please, oh please, oh please, be cool in front of my friends tonight. Ooouuff boys!!***
One of my very dearest friends put it well when she asked, “Will I ever be cool again?” She recounted how she knew she was in a total state of “un-cool” because she kept looking at our children (in a very misty way) and saying, “God bless them” – akin to the style of the old granny who had Tweety Bird for a pet…remember her?
So is she right? Did we actually lose our cool?
Somewhere along the way with all the baggage we picked up, did we just decide to put it down and never went back to retrieve it?
When she first brought it up my initial reaction was indeed to fight back. I responded, “Who even cares?!” Like any of that really matters anymore. I mean, I’m just going to rock my mom jeans and comfy orthopedics if I want to. I earned it. I’m not going to sweat the small stuff. I’m going to have my chicken soup for the soul. But then I thought – wow. How uncool. And I know that’s not me. And it’s not her either. Nor is it most of the women of our generation. We. Want. It. All. Including that cool status we put down for a moment. It did NOT go out the door as soon as we hit a milestone or start to pop babies and begin our families. We just forgot to focus on it and we forgot about the sandbox… Cool is just on PAUSE.
Unlike when we’re in our roaring twenties, we now know that we can push the pause button anytime we want. PRESS. Like my parents and my grandparents before them, I’m happy to say to my boys, “Oh, life is so easy for you now – just wait until you have kids of your own,” or “When I was your age I used to walk 5 miles to school in hip deep snow with no shoes on” Or my favourite Armenian saying, “When you get older, you’ll forget.” UNPRESS. I danced on the bars on the beaches of Mykonos! I hopped up on stage and played the piano in a random restaurant in London! I’m going to blaze my own trail, you don’t have to like it, you don’t need to “get it”, just watch me rock it – mom jeans or not.