Day 24 / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 6 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group.”

I am at least 100 years older than most of the people I work with. I literally work with people who are still in utero. At times they struggle to finish things on time, on account of their organs still developing, but otherwise, really solid output. It’s great.

I’m always a little unsure how far to take a joke.

One of my biggest fears about being in my forties and having a toddler is that someone will mistake me for his grandma. Once when I was taking Jonah on an afterschool date to the grocery store, (suckaaaa), we saw a woman of an indeterminate age pushing a sweet little two-year old in her cart. She wasn’t exactly young but she also wasn’t exactly old, and I’m not sure anymore if I can tell you at which age someone is officially old. Conveniently, my scale slides the more I age. I made the mistake of describing someone as old, like 75, to my dad, who is 70. He winced. I backpedaled and assured my dad that he looks much younger, but the damage was done. And that’s how I know that my vanity is genetic.

Anyway, the woman and the little girl passed us, and Jonah, uncouth as he is, asked, “Mommy, is that a grandma or a mommy?” Can you blame me for pretending like he wasn’t mine and leaving him in the middle of the aisle? To imply a woman is old in LA is like suggesting a woman is a whore in Utah. This is what manners are for.
But my child is young, and with that, all the perils of friendship and learning social norms and interactions are in front of him. By extension, they are in front of me too. Maybe a week ago I was crouching on the floor because I am not sure why. Jonah ran up behind me and jumped on my back, attempting a tackle. It took me by surprise. He wrestles with his daddy but me, not so much. And like that, he recounted the story of the time that he was tackled on the playground by two of his friends, and they punched him in the eyes. He cried out to his teacher, Ms. Gladys, but she couldn’t hear him. Ms. Gladys was his teacher last year, when he was two, which means he was jumped before he learned to catch a ball. It’s possible that this was a dream; it’s possible that they didn’t actually hit him in the eyes like tiny savages. Still, my heart hurt.

Generally I am happy that I waited to have a child. People say that you have so much more energy when you’re younger and are better able to run after your kids. That may be true, I suppose, but I’m not exactly walker material. Yet. My advanced maternal age may put me at risk for one day being confused as his grandma, but it has also given me the insight to sign him up for Kung Fu lessons. First one is Sunday.