Scolded by all, but not sorry

The Middle Ages

Staying young, growing old and what happens in between

August 10, 2008|By SUSAN REIMER

I am a woman of a certain age, and although decorum prevents me from mentioning an exact number of

years, I can say that I am too old to be scolded.

I am too old to have anyone wag their index finger at me and too old to have anyone shake their head sadly at me.

I am too old to buy it when someone tries to sugarcoat that scolding with a too-broad smile and lilting voice.

I am way too old to believe it when someone tries to tell me she is scolding me for my own good.

I say all of this because there seems to be a line forming out the door of people who think they know what is best for me and don't mind telling me in no uncertain terms.

First, there is the dental hygienist who scolds me for not flossing every day. As if there is anyone who sits in her chair who flosses every day. I bet she goes months without digging around in the mouth of someone who flosses every day.

"How are we doing with our flossing?" the dental hygienist always asks. As if she didn't know the answer the minute I opened my mouth.

"Fine," I always say, smiling. I refuse to give her the satisfaction of penitence. I refuse to apologize for not keeping up with my flossing. There are so many other things I need to apologize for first.

Then there is the manicurist who scolds me for picking my hang nails, the hairdresser who scolds me for trimming my own bangs and the aesthetician who scolds me for going after the pimples that continue to show up as if they are unaware that I am no longer 18.

"I am paying you," I want to say. "And I am certainly not handing out cash in exchange for a lecture.

"If you want this arrangement to continue, you will find a way to praise me for what I am doing right instead of clucking your tongue at me for what I am neglecting to do."

I want to shout, "I am too old for this."

We baby boomers are often accused of believing that we invented everything from sex to mutual funds, and we are always ready to take offense when someone suggests that our ways are not the best ways.

Witness Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who had the nerve to tell boomers to get over themselves - that our way of doing things is based on outdated college-campus grudges between freaks and straights, and it no longer works.

As if this indignity were not enough, my children have joined the chorus of those scolding me, which has also grown to include the physician who scolded me for my fasting blood sugar level.

My daughter is scolding me for not checking the sell-by dates on the items in my refrigerator and tossing out those that have expired.

I am, like, "Really? Are you kidding me right now? Sell-by dates?"

Additionally, she scolds me for the traces of mold that occasionally show up on loaves of artisanal bread that don't have nearly enough preservatives in them.

"What? Do you think that was deliberate?" I asked, incredulous and defensive.

"Do you think I was trying to poison you? Do you think I put that moldy bread out for you the way I would put cheese in a rat trap?

"Give me a break."

And my son has been scolding me, too, for, among other things, failing to "adapt and overcome."

It's a military thing, I think.

He makes it sound like a pep talk, but what he is actually doing is scolding me for my indecisiveness in the face of adversity.

Flossing is one thing; moldy bread another.

But failing to adapt and overcome?

I don't know how I live with myself.

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