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What does your age matter?

Some days I feel like 46. Other days I feel like 64, but if you asked me most days, I see myself as 21.

If you asked my 5-year-old son how old I am, you might think I was ready to check into an assisted living center.

That is probably the case with most children, who see their parents as coming from a different time filled with outdated technology and old-fashioned ideas.

My wife and son had been busy Wednesday working on a poster-paper sized birthday card.

Thursday was my birthday and they thought it would be a wonderful surprise for Gibson to show up that morning peering over the top of the card he and a friend had decorated.

Too bad, my son couldn’t keep a secret.

Only halfway complete, Gibson blew his cover during Wednesday night dinner, asking me if I could help decorate my own card.

Gibson, my wife and I spent the evening decorating the card with lines, shapes and squiggles and the occasional alien, cat and banana.

And there was the big 46 I drew to show Gibson how old I would be Thursday.

I was fully expecting Gibson to respond with something like, “That is sooooo old,” or “I can’t even count that high.”

Thankfully he didn’t, and we put the finishing touches on the card before Gibson went to bed.

Most everyone I know has a birthday they are dreading. For some it is 30. For others it is 50. For me, it was 45.

Last year I spent a considerable amount of energy trying to come to terms with that number. Twenty, 30 and even 40 passed by with little notice in my mind. I felt more like that 21 year old who was making plans and chasing dreams. All of a sudden there it was, the big 45.

Where had the time gone? Had I accomplished everything that 21 year old wanted?

Thankfully with a 5-year-old to keep up with, there has been little time to dwell on such questions.

Friends told me that having a child keeps you young most of the time, except for the mornings when your muscles are aching after playing soccer in the backyard or chasing a scooter through the neighborhood.

When I woke up Thursday, I knew to expect Gibson standing on top of the bed peering over that card.

“Happy Birthday, Daddy,” he said jumping up and down as I opened my eyes.

Even some mornings looking at Gibson standing over me with his one-dimpled smile does indeed make me feel young.

“How old does the card say I am,” I said looking up at his smile.

He looked down at the card and then looked up at me and asked, “You are 64?”

For a split second I felt old.

But then when I looked at that 5-year-old who was so happy to be celebrating his dad’s birthday no matter the number.

Forty six, 64 what’s the difference I thought. It’s all good.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.