Those 3 words make my skin crawl. I’m actually embarrassed to admit I texted those exact words to a dear friend today. As I hit that send button, I wanted to take it back. “At that age” is a terrible cliche we use to explain everything from failing health, death, accidents, bad behavior or disease. It’s a cliche used to make ourselves feel oddly comforted for a condition that challenges our mortality as we get older or our bad behavior when we’re younger . It’s not a commentary on celebrating a long life or youthful exuberance. It’s an excuse and it makes me angry that people are okay with it.
Now has anyone used that horrid cliche for anything good? Never. When a two year old has a temper tantrum, all-knowing parents say, “Well, you know he’s at that age.” When your adolescent sulks or acts out, wise ones say, “Well, you know they are at that age.” When a young adult behaves badly because they are trying to get married or avoiding marriage, the gray haired elders chuckle, “Well, it’s time. They’re at that age.” For crying out loud, how did this cliche stick in our collective consciousness?
I would like to apologize to my friend for being glib about some pretty serious business she was putting down for me to pick up. Knowing my friend, it didn’t faze her. She’s a true grown-up in that equation while I sweat all the small details like Scrooge going over the books. But seriously, we need to think of a better phrase to sum up a negative situation. Or better yet, how about we put the cliches and cute phrases on a Viking barge to be destroyed and indulge in something realtalk. If something bad happens, instead of saying, “Well, we’re at that age,” we should say have some real talk and say what we really feel. A good, “That really sucks! Let’s see what we can do about it,” is a start.