[For context, please see “The Age of Love“]

Sometimes when I meet a child for the first time, I ask “How old are you?” It’s mostly because I don’t know what else to say and is my version of a “conversation starter.” Depending on the child’s age, a few fingers might be held up in response.

But more recently I’ve started wondering if that is an ok question. It’s not something we would ask an adult we are meeting for the first time. When I read Drew’s blog post “The Age of Love,” I remembered a poem I wrote not long ago that expresses this contrasting way of approaching age and thought I’d share it.

“How old are you?” 
a child is asked, 
and no one ever looks askance.
But if you ask
the other way
around, it’s not okay. 
They may just say
with much dismay,
“The cheese souffle!”
and turn away.

You might embarrass someone
who is older than she looks.
She might be one of those who lies, 
who slyly “cooks the books.”
Her driver’s license doesn’t show
she passed that age
ten years ago.

Why is it so commonplace
for us to hide our age?
Why the moans and groans all day
about a natural stage?
If we did not attain this stage,
if not at this, our current age,
where would we be? I dare to say,
we’d be under a bouquet.

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