Lines on a senior moment

I've just endured one of those milestone birthdays - you know, the one where your home-room kids buy you a walking stick and think that's really funny. Well, I won't be using the f-word in this column, so let's just say I'm 39 again. Not that I'm in denial or anything.

At least I'm not middle-aged. When I was twenty-something, I thought it amusing that I was teaching the kids of kids I'd been at school with.

Well, if I were middle-aged (perish the thought!), I'd now be teaching the kids of those kids from my first class. Still amused? I don't think so.

If I were middle-aged, I'd find myself scorning my pupils' pop heroes with comments such as, "You call that music?" - just like my dad used to say to me when he was middle-aged. Somehow, I just wouldn't be able to get my head around the concept of rap as poetry or thrash metal as social commentary.

Come back, Boney M, all is forgiven.

If I were middle-aged, I'd be experiencing senior moments in class ("Where did I put those test results?" swiftly followed by, "Test results? What test results?") My colleagues would euphemistically refer to me as "the most experienced member of staff" and there'd be a strong possibility that even the principal would be younger than I am.

If I were middle-aged, I'd no longer be able to blame my hot flushes on that dodgy classroom thermostat. My dreams of squeezing into a size 12 ever again would be fading faster than my chances of having the "'energetic" box ticked at my next appraisal.

I'd probably become preoccupied with boring stuff like planning for retirement, and I might even browse the teachers' pensions website. Perhaps I'd make a final, desperate attempt to recapture my youth.

Maybe I'd be unable to suppress the urge to rush out and buy a pair of low-rise Levi's and a cute ethnic handbag for school. OK, so the words "mutton" and "lamb" spring to mind. But guess what? - I wouldn't care.

I might resort to slapping on more make-up than Duran Duran in the 1980s, and my collection of lotions and potions might well be multiplying more rapidly than inner-city class sizes. And, by the way, just because a jar of cream costs 200 bucks doesn't necessarily mean it works miracles.

Don't ask me how I know. I just do, OK? Thank God I'm not middle-aged.

Mary McCarney is a visiting teacher at an elementary school, in Georgia,USA. She previously taught in Luton

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