Monday, April 9, 2012

Forty (ish) Going on Fourteen

Agent A's practical guide to feeling, staying, and writing young (when you hail from the Stone Age)

Okay, so maybe not the Stone Age (although I might be a shoo in for those Geico commercials) and I’m not really that old (only when my students tell me, “Hey, you taught my mom!”) And I definitely don’t FEEL old. My driver's license does mark me as forty-ish, but honestly? Most days I feel ten. Or seven. Or, well, fourteen.

Some of my closest friends are in their twenties. One of my favorite people in the world to talk to is 19. And I definitely consider it a compliment when my students turn 18 and tell me that now they “get to be a big kid like Mrs. Miller.”

So how do I look, feel, and stay young?

• Eat right
• Exercise EVERY day
• Drink three full servings of milk - every day
• Get a good eight hours of sleep every night

And if you believe that, then I’ll also tell you that I run two marathons a year, eat whatever I want, and have the body of Megan Fox (that will be in my next life).

Yeah, I do NONE of those things (and I totally should), but man, they sure did sound good as I wrote them.

Here’s the scoop on my real fountain of youth:

PLAY—I have an almost eight year old and a *gasp* thirteen year old so this is easy peasy. As soon as I could, I bought my son LEGOS because, um...I kinda sorta like to play with them too. And while sometimes I grimace when my son asks me to play Yoda to his Anakin, I jump in and chase him around the house and have imaginary light saber battles… and okay, I really sound like a nerd here, but it keeps me young. And my daughter—she tries to teach me how to jerk or we’ll battle it out on Dance Central. Every now and then, I beg her to go outside and pass the soccer ball with me. Frankly, I think I get more exercise than she does.

WATCH—I watch Victorious and iCarly and High School Musical and Phineas and Ferb and - yes—I’m a big dork, but I watch shows with kids and about kids and I FEEL like a kid. When Schuster’s GLEE club performs another Journey medley, I’m belting it out at the top of my lungs with them. Or when Chad and Troy and the rest of the HMS cast dance to What Time is It?, tables are cleared in the living room cause, dude. I have to dance too.

BE AROUND KIDS—I teach the fourteen and up category - all day. Then I come home to a middle schooler and a second grader. I’m around kids 24/7. How can I not act like one?

CREATE—kooky monster stories for your son EVERY night or crazy games like Survivor Calculus and Slope Bingo so that math stuff is not so bor-ing.

MARRY A KID—Marry someone who shares your love of roller coasters and Jimmy Buffett or who still runs around the soccer field with his players. Or who convinces all the freshmen there’s a swimming pool underneath his high school. My husband can be as big a kid as I am.

DANCE—okay, so I really do exercise. I’ve been dancing since I was four and when I tap out my frustrations in dance class or in my living room, I feel AWESOME. And young. And totally like I could dance all night long. And sometimes I do.

SEE—a Breakfast Club poster on your wall at school every day. Yes—I really do have that hanging on my classroom wall. Best. Movie. Ever.

LISTEN—I crank up the radio when LMFAO comes on and I rock out to Def Leppard and Katy Perry on my iPod. And while you may not think eighties classics and top forty are the shizz like I do, find what makes you feel young. And listen to it. All. The. Time.

READ—I’ve always had a voracious appetite for books and there are some really phenom adult books out there (and I read them). But I just find young adult and middle grade stories much more enjoyable and way more compelling. They’re fresh and real and deal with real-life crap that real-life teens deal with. And while I won’t profess to vicariously re-living my high school days through reading about them (okay, maybe I do a little), their stories make me feel young.

TALK LIKE A KID—okay I’m not saying cuss like a sailor or interject “like” in your sentence fifty times (because, despite popular opinion, not every kid talks like that), but I find myself saying chill, whatever, and wack a lot—even in my conversations with my colleagues. I make word sandwiches all the time and my kids think I’m the goddess of new and incredible wordage. I think my kids like that I somewhat talk like they do because they’re always trying to teach me new lingo.

And finally—the number one thing that makes me feel like I could scale twenty sets of monkey bars

WRITE—Every time I sit down to play with my imaginary friends, I immerse myself in this world that is totally happy and wild and free and REAL and FUN. And not to say that writing is all peaches and roses, but when I’m in a seventeen year old girl’s or an eighteen year old boy’s head, I’m totally there. I get it. I get them. And they make me feel young.

But here’s the best part about being 40(ish) going on 14. While I may act like a total twit at times, I have the wisdom and experience that age brings with it. I haven’t experienced everything in 40 years, but I’ve been through A LOT. Stuff that helps me relate. Stuff that hopefully makes my writing more real.

And as much as I am NOT a Miley fan, I will quote me some Hannah Montana: I really do have the “best of both worlds.” And I totally embrace it.

So that’s what I do to stay all young and stuff. What do YOU do?


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