An Age-Old Question—by Jamie Levine
When I discovered a few weeks ago that I needed to take a Monday evening graduate school class next semester, I started searching for an activity in which to enroll my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter to keep her occupied while I was gone. Almost immediately, I found a gymnastics class, or rather two of them, at a local school that ran at the same time: One was for four- to five-year-olds and the other was for five- to seven-year-olds. The receptionist at the gymnastics school suggested that Jayda try out both of the classes for free to see which one was the better fit.
On the day of Jayda’s first trial class, she started chatting with a six-year-old girl in the lobby, and when the gates opened, simply ran to join her in the older kids’ class…and never looked back. Thirty minutes into the class, my daughter was laughing with the group, hugging the instructor, and barely waving back to me when I tried to catch her eye. She’s a social kid…and she gravitates towards older children. Generally, I think that’s a good thing—it will likely keep her challenged. And she certainly wasn’t intimidated by this class, or by her classmates; in fact, she begged me to enroll her in the class on the spot.
As a child, I was pushed ahead a grade in elementary school, and went to school with children who were up to an entire year older than me. I never thought twice about it; I graduated at the top of my class and I was always pretty socially active, so I guess things worked out fine for me. And hopefully they will for Jayda, too. Sure, there’s the danger that she may learn a few bad habits from the older girls whom she hangs around, but most of her friends are really good kids, so I’m not too worried.
Watching my daughter and her older girl friends got me thinking about my own friendships—and the fact that age doesn’t factor into any of them. There’s no longer simply a difference of a year or two between me and the women with whom I socialize, but it makes no difference in our interactions. For instance, one of my dearest confidants is a woman whom I met at the gym over a decade ago—and she’s in her 80s! And because I gave birth to Jayda a bit later in my life, many of my close mommy-friends are five to ten years younger than me. But I cherish my friendships—all of them—and I never give a thought to anyone’s age.
However, the same cannot be said for the men whom I date. Lately, tons of younger—much younger—guys have been pursuing me, and while my older married friends enthusiastically say, “you go, girl!” and encourage me to date whomever I can, I find myself feeling wary about my suitors’ intentions—as well as mine. Twenty-something and early-30-something guys bemoan the fact that they’re tired of playing games with the women their age, and claim they’re looking for a mature woman who “knows what she wants.” But is that the truth? Aren’t they just looking for a fun, drama-free fling? What man in his 20s really wants to settle down with an almost-42-year-old woman? Even Ashton Kutcher cheated on Demi Moore. And if I went out with a younger man—even a guy in his early 30s—what does it seem like I’m looking for? I wonder. Because, ultimately, I would like to find Mr. Right—for me and my daughter—marry him, and live happily ever after. But I’m in no rush. And in the meantime, maybe I deserve some fun with Mr. Right Now. But I need intellectual stimulation and mature interactions as much as I need good chemistry when I’m out with a man. And I’m not so certain a much-younger guy can give me that. Could there be an exception? I may just have started dating one…so I’ll let you know.