I went shopping the other day – nothing unusual with that.
It’s half-term, so I took my son with me – nothing unusual with that either.
However, something happened at the supermarket check-out that ROCKED MY WORLD!
But first, some history..
The first time I realised I could be ‘getting on a bit’ was during my third pregnancy when I stole a look at my hospital maternity notes and saw the term “elderly primigravida”.
Elderly? I was only thirty-eight! Then again, the average age of mothers where we lived at the time was about 16 and I defy any thirty-something mother-to-be to sit in a waiting room full of girls fresh out of their school uniforms and not feel ancient.
Having The Boy took it’s toll on my health, so much so that my brain communicated the message to my ovaries that my breeding days were over and
I entered, was catapulted into the menopause at 39 years of age. Bummer, huh?
The problem is that my mind still thinks it’s 17 (the age I was when I had my first son) which would explain my HORROR when the young (male) cashier at the local supermarket rocked my world with this question.
‘Is your grandson helping you to pack?’
It would have been more tolerable if my son was a baby or a toddler, but he’s almost as tall as me with size 4 feet, not that the operator could see his feet from where he was sitting. But you get my drift?
I stared at the young man.
Stared? Are you sure you’re autistic?
Look, my eye-contact is questionable at best, but when sufficiently antagonised, I can out-stare a statue, mate.
After what seemed like hours, I blurted out: ‘HE’S MY SON!
‘Oh my God. Sorry! Er, anyways, you don’t look old old enough to be a grandma etc.’
Put the shovel down, mate. Stop digging. The damage is done. You mistook my 9 (looks more like 11) year old son for my GRANDSON! You PRESUMED it must be the case. Do not address me again. Scan my goods. Take my payment and allow me to exit the supermarket with what remains of my self-esteem.
He never uttered another word.
There was this awkward atmosphere with me aggressively shoving my fruit and veg into bags for life and him fast-tracking my goods through the scanner as fast as was humanely possible. That done, I practically chucked my clubcard at him. I may have been in a hurry to get the hell out of there, but I still wanted my points!
Five minutes later, I was sat in the car – sulking.
“Are you OK Mum?” The Boy asked me.
I don’t know what gave it away that I wasn’t OK. Maybe it was the way my knuckles gripped the steering wheel despite the fact we were stationary?
I said I was fine.
I wasn’t fine.
I really wasn’t.
I (who usually can see the funny side in most things) wasn’t fucking fine.
What I couldn’t work out was WHY it was bothering me so much? I didn’t even have the ‘time of the month’ as an excuse because I’ve not had a period since 2011!
This was the sort of thing my mother would have reacted badly to. She’d have given the young man (see, even that makes me sound like an old codger!) an earful then flounced home to slam some doors. Then again, this was the woman who in her late 60s decided to drop the ‘nan’ bit and sign her grandchildren’s cards with her name. A few years earlier, short-arse rock God, Prince, had ditched the ‘Prince’ bit for a squiggle and became ‘the artist formerly known as Prince’. So, this was how my mother came to be known as ‘the artist formerly known as Nan’.
Was I becoming Gerascophobic like my mother? *
After a day of sulking, I concluded that, yes, the comment had touched a nerve because I physically feel much older than my years due to illness and early menopause. It’s yet another reminder that my youthfulness has fucked off (taking my oestrogen and collagen with it) and will NEVER return.
I guess the problem is that I’ve been used to being the youngest in everything: The youngest child. The baby sister. The youngest in the class. The youngest wife. The youngest mum.
I wonder if it’s any coincidence that this ‘incident’ happened during my silver-hair transition? I have about six inches of silver hair now, but ffs, was it really the artificially coloured hair which made the difference? Not that I am going to slap the dye back on anytime soon as the lure of cheaper hair-dos takes priority over being mistaken for my son’s grandmother.
Even so. *twitch*
At the end of the day, it’s not a big deal at all. Or it shouldn’t be. There are certainly bigger things in the world to worry about, right? I also understand how lucky I am to have a child full stop etc etc so no need to go there.
Bottom line? The first time somebody mistakes you for your child’s grandparent instead of mother? That’s a psychological kick in the flaps, whether you admit to it or not.
So, my flaps having been metaphorically and psychologically kicked, I uphold my right to sulk profusely.
I may be some time.
*(Gerascophobia is an abnormal or incessant fear of growing older or ageing)