I can't believe how old I am. I think I need another mid-life crisis to cope.
I must have reached my third or fourth now and they're getting to be an almost annual event. This one was brought on by buying some wine as end-of-term gifts for the kids' teachers. The assistant behind the counter checked that I was over twenty-five and everyone within about ten metres chuckled to themselves. I was initially flattered the guy had asked but then I got to thinking about exactly how much over twenty-five I am.
He wasn't really supposed to be checking if I was over twenty-five anyway - he was supposed to be checking anyone buying booze who looked under twenty-five to make sure they were over eighteen. I realised that it's nearly eighteen years since I turned eighteen. I felt old. Since I was at the checkout in Tesco with a basket containing six bottles of wine and a bunch of bananas, I also felt somewhat eccentric. I had an image of myself coming across as an ageing chimpanzee with bushy eyebrows and an alcohol problem.
I considered rescuing some dignity by pointing out the wine was for my children. Fortunately, I resisted. I joined in the chuckling, typed in my PIN and made a hasty retreat, clinking loudly as I went.
Ho hum. Cue yet another bout of self-analysis as I wonder what I've been doing for the last goodness knows how long and then try to figure out where my life is headed. Going by previous experience, I should now attempt to recapture my lost youth by locking myself in a room with some loud music and a games console for a week, only emerging to play a complicated war simulation involving painted plastic figures.
Actually maybe youth isn't all it's cracked up to be. Thanks to my housedad training, I'm stronger and more co-ordinated than I used to be. I also have increased stamina and I'm a bit more savvy. I'm confident I could take my eighteen-year-old self in almost any physical competition.
(Well, any that didn't involve a quick start or a keen sense of timing anyway, but that's not because my reaction times and rhythm have got worse, they simply haven't got any better. A 100m Guitar Hero Dash between different temporal iterations of myself would have no winners, only a mangled heap of losers, broken controllers and on-lookers clawing at their ears.)
Along with having an athletic advantage over my younger self in the time-travel Olympics, being a parent has taught me how to negotiate a head start and reinvent the rules. Not to mention the fact I'd have three small minions to set on my younger, spottier twin and he wouldn't have a clue how to defeat them.
Victory would be mine.
Besides, life is generally much more pleasant now I'm not eighteen. Maybe my youth should stay down the back of the sofa, or wherever else it is I lost it.
Then again... Even as I was thinking all this to myself, I went to collect Marie from nursery. As I pushed open the heavy, red door to enter the building, I remembered it was her last day. After six years of turning up to collect one child or another, I knew I'd never have to do it again. No more waiting in the lobby staring at collages, no more swing park before lunch and no more grinning sheepishly at Miss Nolan. Next term, I'll be standing around the playground in the rain to collect Marie along with the boys.
I have three school-age kids. I can't believe how old I am. I think I'm going to have to go fire-up the Xbox, play some Del Amitri at full volume and eBay myself a game involving little plastic Space Marines...
Yours in a woman's world,
PS I just got back from another trip to Tesco. The pensioner in front of me had nothing in her basket apart from six bottles of wine and ten cans of gin and tonic. She loaded them into her wheeled shopping bag and tottered off down the street.
I'm guessing she's looking after her grandchildren for the holidays.