Alexandra Duncan

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Feminism.

OVER THE MOLEHILL

After work today, I put on my pajamas, rolled my hair up in curlers and headed over to Spellbound Children's Bookshop to help Leslie wrangle the little ones at the store's semi-annual Pajama Party Story Time. Most of the kids had brought their favorite stuffed animals with them, so we sat them in a circle and asked them to tell everyone about their toys. To break the ice, I brought out Julia, my ancient stuffed cat.

"This is Julia," I said, passing her around the circle of sticky hands.
"I've had her since I was three. My mom gave her to me. And back before she lost her whiskers, people in restaurants and grocery stores used to come up to us and say, 'Ma'am, your daughter can't have a real cat in here!' "

"You have a mom?" a five-year-old girl interrupted me, touching my shoulder, a look of wonder and incredulity in her eyes.

"Of course she does," her older sister said. "Almost everyone has a mom."
She began pointing around the room. "Mom has a mom, and he has a mom, and I bet even she has a mom." This last was reserved for a college student who was also helping out that night.

I should add that the five-year-old's mother was approximately the same age as me, somewhere in her mid to late 20s, so I can understand why the girl would have trouble fathoming the idea that someone as old as her mother would have a mother herself.

I remember picking out an "over-the-hill crying towel" for my father on his 35th birthday, and teasing him mercilessly about his age. When you're eight, your parents seem ancient, no matter how old they are. Now, when 35 seems like a realistic number I might reach sooner or later, it looks like a perfectly fine age to start thinking about having children. This must be my retribution, come in the form of an anonymous five-year-old.

If I were older than I am, I'm sure such an innocent remark would have stung more. But I'm not old enough yet to start bemoaning my age. If I start now, I won't have anything to complain about by the time I hit 50.

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