I’ve heard it my whole life, the notion that elderly people are a lot like little kids. I know regression takes place over the final years. I’ve seen firsthand how Father Time eventually subtracts some of the most basic skills, leaving behind a storeroom of Depends and the impulse control of—well, a preschooler. But having spent much of today with my nearly 90-year-old grandfather and my 4-year-old son, I’m not convinced the analogy holds much water. Here’s why I don’t think the elderly are much like little kids:
- Although my grandpa did fall and get a rug burn on his forehead just before I arrived to take him out, he did not start screaming, “BAND-AID! BAND-AID! I NEED A BAND-AID! I’M BLOODING!”
- While my grandpa has indeed reached the stage where incontinence is an issue, he never wiggles around pinching his wiener through his pants and swearing to God that he really does not have to go.
- Although my grandpa did shout, “WAITER!!!” loud enough to cast a spell of startled silence over every single patron in the IHOP where we ate today, he came off like a regular Emily Post next to my son, who at that moment was creeping out from under the table with something balanced on his index finger while saying, “Mom! People wipe boogers under this table!”
- My grandpa requires naps and can fall asleep anywhere, but he does not sprout horns and devolve into a blubbering, fit-throwing devil during the 20 minutes prior. He also does not demand any particular bedding be present, and although he does like a good reclining chair for the deed, I’ve never once seen him pitch a fit if he doesn’t get one.
- My grandpa carries a handkerchief with him everywhere and deposits his boogers in it instead of on walls, in his hair, or worst of all, in his mouth. He also does not spend time marveling at each specimen he removes.
- My grandpa’s jokes don’t all end somehow with someone pooping or falling into poop or smelling like poop or eating poop or being poopy. They pretty much never involve poop.
- My grandpa never shows up to the dinner table nude.
- My grandpa may hoard things that clearly belong in the trash, but at least they’re remnants of things that were once used by him and might possibly serve some purpose in the future. They are not someone else’s rubbish plucked up from playgrounds, parking lots, grocery store floors, or worst of all, the mall play area.
- No matter what he’s served, my grandpa eats every…single…thing…on…his…plate….right down to the last nanoparticle of butter. Then he licks his fingers. Enough said.
- Once he goes to bed, my grandpa is down for the night. He does not call out requests for water, back scratches, hangnail doctoring, different speeds on the ceiling fan, lights dimmed or brightened, another trip to the toilet, or answers to random questions about God, death, or private parts.
Think about it. Can’t you name way more differences than likenesses between little kids and the elderly, too?