Geri-Antics: Seeking the truth

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, November 12, 2022

By Anne Carmichael


We’ve all had occasions when someone commented, “You look so young,” or “You haven’t aged a day,” or ‘You must have a Dorian Gray portrait in the attic.’ That’s called blowing smoke, aka white lies.

Email newsletter signup

If you want to know precisely how old you look, ask a kid how old they think you are.

If the child is two or younger, they probably think thirty is old, in which case they’ll either guess you’re twenty-nine or thirty. Sure, you can tell all your friends that the baby said you look young, but what they more likely meant to convey is that to them, you are ancient.

A child age three would likely take one look at you and guess that you’re about one hundred. You see, that’s about the biggest number a three-year-old has heard. They have no concept of time, but they, too, are telling you the sands have almost run out of the hourglass.

By the time a child is out of primary school, they’ve been on the planet long enough and have heard ages discussed so that they have a general idea of your true chronological age. They know that their older siblings were sixteen when they learned to drive, eighteen when they finished high school, and in their twenties when they married.

They know the ages of their parents, so if you’re a grandparent, they simply double their parent’s age and guess you fall somewhere in that category.

Depending on how they’ve been brought up, they’ll either be brutally accurate, or they’ll seek to flatter you in order to get one of the coveted crisp dollar bills you hand out whenever you visit. Honesty is a coin toss when conversing with a teen, depending primarily on their mood at that particular moment.

Seniors and little kids have much in common. They both experience mobility issues. Infants and toddlers fall a lot because their brain hasn’t matured to the point where their equilibrium is balanced. The senior’s brain has long since completed the process and is now withering on the vine. Both sometimes need assistance navigating their world.

Children are totally innocent and honest. They never intentionally hurt your feelings. By the same token, their opinions are based on their experience five minutes ago. If they tell you your dress is beautiful, it could very well be because you’re wearing the color purple and they just finished a purple Popsicle.

A senior, on the other hand, might say that purple is not your color because they’ve noticed your dress and your varicose veins match.

The difference is that a senior has filtered their words and behavior for decades, and they’ve grown weary of having to temper their comments to protect your sensibilities. Put simply, we no longer care.

When a child gives you their opinion with wide-eyed innocence, it’s adorable and humorous. Art Linkletter built an entire television show around the premise that “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.”

On the other hand, when a senior blasts you with the same honesty, you know that they totally mean every word. They just sound demented.

So what have we learned about both ends of the honesty spectrum?

A child’s honesty is without reproach and without malicious intent. A senior’s unabashed honesty is just as real and just as unintentionally hurtful, but we don’t care about the fallout. We’re just being ‘us’ …take it or leave it.

Both age groups are fragile, and you should not take it personally nor exact retribution for the comments we make.

Between point A (a child) and point B (the elderly), however, there are the generations from teens to middle age. Those are the age groups whose intentions must be carefully analyzed.

Do they have an agenda or ulterior motive for what they say, or are their opinions and comments merely the result of a past experience or emotional response because they’re having a bad day?

It is often difficult to assess the meaning and intentions of comments made by someone between the ages of 16 to 60.

Therefore, ask a kid or a senior if you seek the 100% unvarnished truth.

Make sure before you ask the question that you’re prepared to accept the answer because we tell it exactly like it is.