Ms. Aranda’s Whippersnappers

I began working in Property Management at age 29.  I remember thinking that I had a “responsible person” job, and felt like a grown-up for the first time.

That feeling could have easily turned into “old-person”.  I’ve seen it happen.  The older I get, the more I see people my age making comments about young people.  Kids.  Millennials.  They might as well be referring to them as “whippersnappers”.   They comment about their hair, fashion, piercings and tattoos.  About the weird music they listen to, the weird games they play, and the way they talk.  Strange fads bubble to the surface.  And, because everything is recorded these days, the world watches while they snort pixie sticks, bite down on Tide Pods or whack themselves in the nuts.

Because I realize my parents see my blog, I won’t go into detail (yet)… but I will say that I don’t think I have a single friend who made it through high school (and college) without pulling some pretty risky (fun) and stupid stunts.  Had we been on camera, I’m certain we would have been judged just as harshly as the kids these days are now.  Our parents (and sometimes the police) caught us in the act on occasion, and speculated about the rest.  I’m pretty sure they had no idea.  But had they thought hard enough…and dug deep into their own memories…they probably would have figured it out.

Life becomes tricky once you have children.  You don’t want them to do the same dangerous crap you did.  So you lie.  Then they do it anyway, and now you are a liar.  And a old person.

One of my favorite stories from my early days as a Property Manager involves a tiny old woman who walked into my office and needed a 1-bedroom apartment.  She was 75 years old, and a ball of fire.  She had an easy smile and an infectious laugh.  I had a large 1-bedroom unit on the end of a quiet building that overlooked the desert.  I told her she could sit on her patio and watch the sun set and the only noise she would hear would be the coyotes late at night.

Instead, she asked if we had a playground.  We didn’t, but we did have a tennis court, and she wanted to know if we had any units close to that.  I had a small 1-bedroom on the first floor that sat directly next to the court.  It was in a 3-story building that primarily housed students.  It was routinely noisy.  I explained to her that tennis balls would end up on her patio, and it was likely that any plants or patio décor would get destroyed.  I tried in vain to talk her out of it.  I anticipated getting calls from a disagreeable old woman at all hours of the night.  But she stood firm, and took it.

She moved in and immediately put a patio chair outside and could be seen sitting out there more often than she was indoors.  She watched the children play, and interacted with the students who lived in and around her building.  She made cookies and sliced oranges and would bring them outside.  She walked to the pool on summer afternoons, bringing ice pops for the kids (and adults).  She knew everyone’s dog by name and carried biscuits for them in her pockets.

In what I can only describe as true “Hocus Pocus” fashion, she literally breathed in the youth from all those around her.  The more children showed up to play, the more her eyes lit up.  I don’t remember her aging while she lived there.

Ms. Aranda literally changed the way I view old age, as well as my outlook on life.  And I think she ultimately shaped what kind of parent I became.