When I was a preteen (a tween in today's speak) I used to stretch out on my back, stare at the ceiling and try to fall asleep. But the pains running up my leg would make it impossible.
"You're having growing pains," my mom would say and she would massage my muscles for a few minutes. Finally, I would drift off into dreams where I wasn't the shortest person in the room or the last one picked to play on a basketball team.
I didn't feel any taller the next day or the day after or the day after that. In fact, for all my growing pains, I didn't get very tall at all.
My daughter experienced the same sort of pains and she's even shorter than I am. Although it did seem like she outgrew her clothes rather quickly, sometimes overnight.
Now my grandkids are experiencing these very same achy muscle symptoms.
The other night while reading to my grandson, I got a cramp in my toe. I pulled my foot toward me, all the while, explaining to my grandson why I was exhibiting this unusual behavior. But, fact is, he found it all very normal.
"It's growing pains, Grandma," he said, matter-of-factly. "I get a hundred million every day."
"Well, I don't think my toe is still growing," I said.
"Is it aching up your leg?"
"Yep, growing pains." There was no doubt in his young mind.
So, I just kissed him goodnight and went I search of tonic water.
He was correct, in a way. My pain was associated with "growing" but instead of growing up, it was connected to growing older.
If it's not tonic for the leg cramps, it's an aspirin for my sciatic nerve or a shot of cortisone for my trigger thumb.
There's no way around it. As we grow older, things change. Gravity brings our breasts closer to our belly buttons. We develop under arm flab, which is mentally painful to look at, although not physically painful, unless it gets caught in a button. We need glasses to see the fine print, so as not to strain our eyes. Hair grows in unwanted places, such as our chin (yes -- I have one very long one, which is painful to pull out!) And God knows what body parts start talking to us in the middle of the night.
To my grandson, my skin is crinkly. My hair wiry. I might as well be a Grandmasaurus. Because everyone knows the pre-laptop, iPod and cell phone days were the dinosaur days.
With my leg cramp under control, I went back to check on my grandson. My heart swelled as I watched him sleep.
Yes, there is a conglomeration of aches and pains, but growing older is so much more than that.