age·ism also ag·ism
n. Discrimination based on age, especially prejudice against the elderly.
I am not elderly. But I am over forty. I am still raising young children, I regularly step on pieces of Lego as I make my way across the living room floor and I still negotiate disputes over who gets the plate painted with an ugly blue dragon at dinner time. These activities keep me immersed in the part of my life that has everything to do with staying appearing young and yet I have this uncanny feeling that the bottom is about to drop out. Like I am poised on the edge. I am stepping over the brink. I am standing with one foot in the halcyon crayon days of my youth and am about to step into the disordered devolution of old age.
I don’t think I have necessarily experienced prejudice directed towards my age, but I do have a job coach. Which is something I wouldn’t have needed in my twenties. I don’t know her very well and I really don’t think she knows me at all. She knows my name, a bit of my work history (as per my resume) and she tells me I don’t have any barriers to employment. Hhmmm. Doesn’t feel like that to me. Isn’t age a barrier? Isn’t being a woman a barrier? Isn’t taking time off work to raise my kids and then trying to enter the work force again, having lost those essential years of “experience”, a barrier?
Perhaps the most intimidating barrier is my inability to manage the hours, days and years allotted to me. If I’d known they were all going to slip through my fingers so quickly, I would have grabbed on to some of them. I would have held them in a choke-hold and strangled every last bit of living out of them. I would have made them tell me their secrets and perhaps my life would have been richer, more fulfilled. Or, at least, I would have corralled a few years together and forced them to provide me a career. But, alas, even now, as the clock keeps ticking, I am involved in picking up Lego and am washing the dragon plate so it will be ready for supper. And, after all, maybe that is the essence of the secrets those nymph-ish, willful hours are trying to impart.