The Similarities between Small Children and Elderly People

After observing my two small children for some time in their natural habitat and having a great deal of experience with elderly people (namely, my grandmother), I have come to the conclusion that there are quite a few similarities between the two demographics.

First of all, they both receive substantial discounts at restaurants. There is the ubiquitous senior citizen discount available at many fine dining establishments (such as Denny’s), and there is the equally ubiquitous Kids Menu, which can be found practically everywhere (except for expensive French restaurants).

Second, they both enjoy taking vitamins. My children are extremely fond of the gummi and chewable varieties. My grandmother took it a step further, being a gimlet-eyed connoisseur of the entire alphabet of vitamins, even going so far afield as to entertaining fairly stern opinions on the quality of imported Chinese ginseng versus Thai ginseng.

Third, they both possess selective hearing. My children, depending on the circumstance, have ears as sharp as wolverines. If they are out in the backyard, peacefully going about one of their games of War or Attack of the Pirates or Who Shall We Blow Up Now? (all activities which involve a great deal of incessant yelling, shrieking, and howling), and I am somewhere inside the house, all I have to do is whisper the word “chocolate” and they somehow hear me. Their ears prick up and they come galloping inside, ready to ravage and devour chocolate, somewhat similar to wolverines (if wolverines ate chocolate). On the other hand, if my son is sitting on the couch with me and I tell him it’s time for him to take a bath, he will not hear a word I say. I can repeat it several times, loudly, signal the message via semaphore or smoke signals or telegram dispatch, and he will still claim he didn’t hear me.

My grandmother also had the keenest of ears if the occasion called for it. If one whispered about an outing to the coast, or an interesting book, or an excellent avocado, then she would pop up right out of the woodwork. If the conversation did not interest her, then she simply (and happily) would be incapable of hearing.

There are more similarities, of course, and I don’t point them out due to irritation or bewilderment or anything like that. Merely, the similarities are reassuring. We enter and exit life much in the same way. Small children and elderly people both have a great capacity for contentment (though they certainly don’t always exercise it). Contentedly enter and contentedly exit. It’s the in-between part where we find all our trouble.

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