Thursday, July 25, 2013

Camp Paws and Post Menopause

A friend just told me that the local Humane Society has a one-week day camp for elementary school-aged children. The experience gives the students an opportunity to  learn the needs of animals and how to care for pets.

 As I listened to my friend tell about the things her grandchild learned, my head was spinning with ideas. I thought that it would be a great idea for active senior communities like mine to run a day camp for local children. It should be done in conjunction with the Humane Society where the children would spend the first week.  By the end of the second week, which is the one spent in Seniorville, the young ones would realize that both pets and folks on Social Security have a lot in common.

Pets and old folks have unconditional love for little ones who are kind to them.  Pets give sloppy kisses to humans. Seniors give candy kisses (when parents allow) and real kisses also, unless of course the children are at the age where it will mortify them. It’s weird they never mind Fido’s kisses, but somehow Granny’s and Papa’s hugs can be embarrassing to preteens. 

Another thing seniors and pets have in common is we don’t like to be confined.  Dogs like going for long walks or to Dogie Parks. Children can accompany hosting seniors to local amusement parks or game rooms that permit children—or even on a neighborhood walk where they can share experiences. Verbalizing might be hard for some youngsters who usually only text the old folks in their lives. I’m sure they learned at Camp Humane Society that they had to talk to the pets because Fido doesn't text. After a week, the kids might even enjoy the archaic way of communication.

Pets love attention and have their spirits uplifted after an afternoon or evening frolicking with their owners. Likewise, grandparents glow when showered with attention from children…of any age. True, few grandparents can run as fast as Fido does after a ball, but many are still capable of shooting baskets or playing a decent game of tennis  with the visitors. For those “campers” who prefer water sports, they can join the elders who are participating in water aerobics or pool volley ball.  

Seniors who use a walker or cane don’t want to be excluded from fun just like a limping pup wants attention too. There are lots of table games that youngsters could enjoy playing  with their elders—and these games aren't restricted to those gray-haired folks with aches and pains.  Like pets, plenty of people of all ages and physical conditions prefer being in air-conditioned comfort. There are numerous other non-physical games for children of all ages such as Gin Rummy, Dominoes  Chess, Bridge, Canasta or Mah Jong. These games, like rules pets must learn, are filled with rules players must master.

In Camp Humane Society, Fido gets the treat at the end of each activity from the “campers.” The roles are switched in Camp Seniorville.  Here the visiting children would be receiving the instant gratification rewards from their “owners. “ In fact, in this one category, camping with the elders is quite superior to Camp Human Society.  In Camp Seniorville, the children can be taken out of the community for a treat at any time during the day, be it ice cream or an indulging shopping spree. I know firsthand, the hosting seniors will gladly spring for the bill!  Now y’all know that is something Fido would never do!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

If the Key Fits

Thirty odd years ago, I sat in my much older sister-in-laws’ kitchen ridiculing her then in style “old-lady” Vera blouse, the same as my mother’s. She cautioned me that every generation has its “uniform” and mine was jeans with tops. She said as far as she and her peers were concerned, we we were wearing laborer's clothing as dress apparel.  Hubby and I still wear them, but so do my kids and grandkids, so denim pants certainly are not just for the over 65 set.

 For 35-years I have yet been able to pinpoint an “old people” style for mine. A very funny Facebook post a Facebook friend recently shared hit me like a brick as to my generations “uniform,” and it isn’t one to be found in clothing stores. She wrote about how she and her 3 young children exited a super market, piled into a van, packages and all, only to have one of her son’s say, “Mom, this isn’t our car.”

Clothes don’t define my generation. Our cars do. My young friend’s post was about vans, trucks, whatever you may want to call them. I guarantee you will find few seniors on Social Security driving 7-passenger vehicles unless the owners live near all of their grandkids and have to drive their carpools.

Fifteen years ago most of my peers drove a white anything-manufactured by Toyota, cars. Through the years we switched to gray ones but recently white full-sized cars by various manufacturers seem to be making a comeback as the “old-people uniform” automobile color.

As I’m writing this, my memory has been jogged about a parking lot incident with my friends about ten years ago.  My Mah Jongg group had met for lunch. Three of the five of us had driven.  After lunch, we returned to our same model, different year, cars. Two of us could not open the doors. The third, along with her passenger, started to laugh. “I guess I’m lucky,” she called to us. “My car is a different shade of gray.” 

So, sister-in-law up in heaven, you were right. Each generation has their uniform.  Do I dare say that “texting” belongs to the next generation?