I spent a lot of time over the holidays hanging out with various nieces, whose ages range from 5-13. And if there is one thing they taught me, it is this: I am officially old.
Christmas is a time when everyone turns in to a 5-year old. You make lists of stuff that you want, you wear ridiculous sparkly things, you shove cookies in your face and sing "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" in public places, and you do these things sober, because it is Christmas, and Christmas makes us all insane at times.
Yet Christmas, apparently, is also a good time for younger people to remind you that you are, in fact, an old grownup loser. And though you may win the heart of your 5-year-old niece by knowing the names of everyone on Yo Gabba Gabba and doing a headstand while performing a puppet show, your 13 year old niece will continue to remind you that you are, in fact, totally uncool for not knowing how to tell the Jonas Brothers apart and for seriously sucking on the Easy level of Guitar Hero. You begin to panic: not because you give a shit about the Jonas Brothers, but because you realize that you are, in fact, a grown up. The one present you asked for was flannel sheets and a down comforter. You don't feel guilty anymore about sneaking Bailey's into your hot chocolate. You laugh at your parents' matching sweaters instead of wanting to "like, totally die" whenever they walk into a room together.
And then you open your stupid mouth and say this: "I can't believe I'm going to be 28 in three weeks. I am so old!" and your 35 year old sister, 60 year old mother, and 75 year old neighbor give you the biggest "Bish, plz" look in the history of the universe. "You're a tadpole," the 75 year old says, and you remember the black and white pictures in her house, and all of the stories she's told you about the life she has lived and the adventures she has had over 75 years, compared to your 28 years of whatever and whatnot, and you want to punch yourself in the face for being such an idiot.
So here is the real lesson, I guess: you're always old to somebody, and you're always young to somebody else. The sucker punch you feel when you realize you've left pieces of yourself far behind, and that you're in a different place, can easily be balanced out by the relief you feel knowing that even though you may suck at Guitar Hero (for now- Auntie is practicing, son) and you don't know who the Jonas Brothers are or give a shit about High School bloody Musical, you also don't have to go through 8th grade all over again, like your niece does. And even though her job is to remind you that you're slowly moving into "old" territory, your job is to catalog her love of the Jonas Brothers and tease her about it in approximately 15 years, when she's in the very place you're in right now. And also, of course, to remind her that you used to be 13, too, and you'll be there to help her through it if she needs you, much like your older sister, your mother, and your 75 year old neighbor are there for you.
Also? The Jonas Brothers will be uncool in 6 months, but my flannel sheets and down comforter are going to be hot for years to come. Take that, whipper snappers!