Everyone’s been there at some point in their lives – The kids’ table.
It’s the place where anyone under a certain age is placed during family gatherings. Depending on the size of your family, you could be seated at the kids table for years!
But, what happens when you graduate to the non-kids table and someone else takes your place?
Personally, I could not wait to be an adult and move up to the real table. It always looked like they were having so much fun.
Amazingly, recently as we all gathered for the college graduation of the youngest of the cousins, it became clear that we were not longer at the kids’ table. Actually, the kids table as we knew it doesn’t exist anymore. Let me clarify. It’s not that there aren’t any kids any more – my cousins have had babies – but something changed in the family and we’re no longer seated according to age group.
At this evening event, some of the cousins that are my age group were at a table across the room with their kids. And some of us were at the table with our parents. Actually, the parents’ table – which I used to want to be at so badly really doesn’t exist any more either. Some members of that table are no longer alive. Those of our parents who remain often joke that they are the “old people’s table” now. I wonder if they ever looked over 10 or 20 years ago at the “old people” and aspired to be part of that group or if they looked over and said “well, I’ll never be old like them.”
So as the evening goes on, it is clear that me and my cousins – we span a wide age range with the youngest just graduating college – we are not the kids any longer. And sadly we show our age by commenting on the music (“too loud”, “what is this stuff?” “how are you supposed to dance to this?”); talking about the clothes that the college graduates are wearing (“doesn’t she realize that that top is too low cut?”; “how could he wear sneakers to a party at a restaurant?”; “is that a shirt or a dress?”), and scariest of all, talking about the time (“when are they going to serve dinner?”; “this is way past my bedtime”; “I am so tired!”).
And we ask ourselves, how we got here… To the table that is no longer the kids table nor the parents table… To a place where we feel the urge to talk about dress length and shoes? None of us have the answer even as we move from the wine and beer to the coffee to sober up and get ready for the drive home.
It would be great to ask the family elders about the transition from one group to another but there is only one of them here tonight. The other two are too tired or unable to leave the home. I am sure that if one of us did ask the question, we’d get the same answer that we’re all struggling with – “I’m not sure when it happened. It just did.”