My Mom was the first to tease me today with an over-the-hill joke and my brother quickly followed on her heels. I took it well though but prior to this I’d been dreading the big day for this reason. I knew the jokes were coming.
I told some friends I was out with last week when they asked that I just wanted to get it over with. I smiled when I said it but there was a pit in my stomach—just talking about it at dinner made me nauseous. I passed on dessert.
Feeling convicted about my negativity on my prayer walk the next day I asked the Holy Spirit to change my attitude. Within minutes I found a penny and reaching to pick it up the impression I got was that for this to happen I needed a different perspective. Exactly what is that though I wondered?
I’m thankful God has seen fit to give me so many years but when you turn 20 and 30 you don’t hear the “it’s all downhill from now” comments. At 40 they start but by 50 everyone breaks out the black. I know it’s all good fun but I also know that every joke has some truth behind it. Aging does have plenty of problems associated with it.
Fortunately I had plenty of other things to mull over until my question was answered—one of which was the dog and his bowl. That’s right the dog and his bowl which he’s unusually attached to.
On Monday the non-slip rubber gasket that rings the bottom of it finally fell apart. I knew the day was coming and had gone to considerable effort to preserve it but couldn’t. It’s old. It was our first Buddy’s bowl and he loved it as much as Buddy Too. It’s stainless steel, heavy, and has a nice tone when a dog tag hits it.
In anticipation of the bowl losing its grip and the dog too, I found a similar one and tried putting his food in it. He wouldn’t eat. In fact, he totally freaked out by the switch and ran into his kennel shaking. No amount of coaxing worked to get him out. I pulled the dish and let him miss a meal.
At dinner time the same thing happened but this time he started crying. It was like déjà vu for me. When I tried to switch Luke from baby food to solid food there was a similar standoff. Weaning Chase from a bottle to a cup was even worse. You would have thought I was torturing them.
Granted the new bowl has an inferior feel to it but when a dog that will eat a dead bird won’t eat his premium dog food out of a perfectly suitable bowl it’s a crazy-making. Yes, he’s the most timid dog I’ve ever met and he does have some autistic-like traits but c’mon that’s just nuts.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I think I’m going to have to outsmart him like I did you and Chase with all your adverse reactions to change.”
He had a good laugh at this.
Later that day looking at the old and new bowls side by side my inspiration hit. I could take the rubber gasket from the new bowl and use it on the old one. I’d have to trim it and glue it together because it was bigger but it might work.
That evening when I filled the retrofitted dish with food and set it down Buddy was willing to approach. He inspected it warily and finally tried eating. When it slipped a little he had a small panic attack but when I sat with him he mustered up enough courage to finish. PROGRESS!
Later when Luke asked me if Buddy had eaten I was pleased to report he had.
“How’d you manage that?” he asked.
I described my brainstorm with Buddy parked right next to me looking a little braver.
“Good one Mom,” said Luke. “That was clever. I don’t think I would’ve thought of that—but to be fair I don’t have a lot of experience with problem children.”
“Yeah, well I do.”
“I know,” he said smiling sheepishly.
Luke’s compliment while meant to address the dog drama hit the bullseye in my heart.
That’s it I thought. That’s what I can celebrate—my age won problem solving skills. Not just with my kids and dog but any number of things. What I know now that I didn’t know on all my other milestone birthdays is that more problems can be solved than you think. Not because you have all the answers but because you know how to wait for an answer to come.
Ultimately the gift this offers is the confidence of knowing you’ll survive the ride. At 20, 30, and 40 you may not think so but at half-a-century you know so. I suppose that’s what makes 50 nifty—that and all your friends riding down to the finish line with you.