When I was 21, I started working as a grad nurse at Children's Hospital. For years I was the youngest nurse on the ward. The teenagers liked having me as their nurse, because even though I was a grown-up I was still young enough to understand them. I know that more than 10 years had passed and I'm far from 21. I was not so ridiculous as to think that the teenagers still viewed me as a slightly older peer, but I still thought that they would see me as a little older nurse who was still somewhat cool.
Last night I worked on my old ward, and I took care of a teenager who had been on some heavy pain medication the night before...too heavy. Apparently the kid was as high as a kite, and acting more than a little goofy. So last night after he was back on planet earth and vaguely remembering the previous eve, he mentioned how embarrassed he was. "I was flirting with a nurse who was old enough to be my mother!" he told me. I remembered that his nurse from that night had been one of the nurses who started not long after me. She was a few years older than me, but not much. I tried to rebuke him explaining that "she's not old enough to be your mother, your nurse last night is only a few years older than me"...a blank stare was my response. That's when I did the math and realized that I was 17 when this young man was born. I AM OLD ENOUGH TO BE HIS MOTHER!
I know I'm not in my 20s anymore and I've long since realized that I can no longer be the "cool older-cousin-type nurse" to the teenagers, but I was hoping I was still seen more as the "cool-auntie-type nurse". But no, somewhere in the past years I've changed in those teen eyes. I am now a full-fledged adult...an uncool, out-of-touch Mother Hen, not to be trusted. When did I get old?