Friday, June 19, 2009

Rude Old People

Generally I love old people.

I've sat by the bedside of old people I don't know as they struggle through that knife-edged balance between this world and the next.

I've sat and talked with them about many things, amazed at how much better the world is because they have lived in it (even if they only feel they've influenced a tiny part of it).

I've lead funerals where their lives are celebrated by those who love them.

And I've probably known more of them than most people my age because I grew up within the church family, which is one of the few places where cross-generational activities are still encouraged (at least in small churches where I've always been involved).

The thing is that I've also heard the tisking and negative comments made by some older people about children and young people. I do stress that these were not by all older people, but certainly a representative sample of them.

I couldn't help but reflect on this as I madly vacuumed the church hall floor yesterday morning before setting up for our children's music morning. You see, after 35 years in the church I know that it is the kids who create mess, not the adults who came to yesterday's funeral.

We are incredibly careful to clean up after ourselves, even to the point of making the kids sit and have their morning tea on a tarp that can be shaken out afterwards and catch any liquid spills. And here I was trying to scrape ground-in icing off the carpet with my thumbnail and pick up cake crumbs and the occasional cakey sultana with the vacuum cleaner. (And I must stress that as a member of my church I would have been happy to vacuum the floor after the funeral yesterday, I just didn't need 20 minutes of vacuuming added to the set-up time this morning when numbers were down in the set-up team due to illness!)

We all know that it is the kids who create disturbing noise in church, but it was two ladies well into their retirement who used to talk throughout the distribution phase of communion in one of my former churches.

It also reminded me of an incident from a shopping trip where I was standing in the line a the bakery waiting my turn to buy bread rolls, when a lady of mature years pushed in front of me to buy a loaf of sliced bread that she'd picked up. I was so stunned at her behaviour that I couldn't come up with anything to say. I could even have been standing there with my mouth hanging open at her behaviour, I was that shocked. You see, I know that it's the kids that are rude and don't consider the needs of others or take their turn.

The thing is, I guess rude people get old as well as the dear, happy and polite. As a society we don't cull people with bad manners (although, maybe that's not a bad idea?!) At least the rude kids are in the process of learning manners. The chance that rude old people ever will?

... Approximately None!


Crazy Sister said...

You're right, of course. Old people are just normal people who've grown old, and normal people are messy and rude and generally stupid.

Likewise, people with beautiful souls can also be found in all ages!

You're going to be a startling and delightfully shocking old lady. I can imagine Giggles' children staring open mouthed at Great Aunty Jen jumping on their freshly made beds...

Swift Jan said...

Great post!!!!!!!!!

Femina said...

Yes, I've noticed that it's the KIDS who ring me at work on Monday morning to tell me there was a typo in the church newsletter... I think it's not just that rude kids grow into rude adults and then rude old people; some of them seem to develop this sense of entitlement along the way which makes them believe it's perfectly okay to be rude to anyone they like.

To balance the scales a bit, though, I've had a friend, who would call herself a little old lady, sending me messages and offering to bring food around while I'm at home sick this week.

Givinya De Elba said...

You all make some good points! Makes me think about how I want to age, myself.

Louisa said...

As someone whose job is to advocate for kids in church, I LOVE THIS!