You don't look old enough...

For the most part, my response to any “How old are you?” question depends on two factors: desired length of conversation and long term relationship potential, or lack thereof. Ordinarily, I just lie and say that I’m (insert number—calculated to ensure that total age is greater than or equal to 16 years Mychael’s senior). I used to feel guilty about bending the truth, but not anymore. It’s too much effort otherwise; not to mention, it’s emotionally draining.

By fictitiously aging myself at least five and a half years, I can usually politely terminate any unwanted conversations in less than ten minutes, whereas telling the truth is a guaranteed twenty minutes, minimum. I’m fairly certain that on average, my pragmatism is saving me approximately one hour per day, seven hours per week, twenty eight hours per month and three hundred sixty four hours per year. At $30 per hour (well under what I or any other parent is worth), my fibbing is saving our family $1092 per year.

Yet, it’s not necessarily about the time or the money. Usually, I just don’t feel like explaining our life story to every person who wants to know if I have kids. I can never just say, “Yes,” and be done with it, as inevitably, the interrogator will want to know their ages. If I say, “18 and 15,” then the next comment will be some skeptical and overtly suspicious statement about my youthful appearance—about my not looking old enough to blah, blah, blah.

In the past, if I really wanted to end the conversation quickly, I’d just say my kids were ages four and six. Sure, I might have continued to face questioning regarding their genders and names, but other than that, I was home free. Total length of conversation: under five minutes.

Since moving to Indiana, I’ve discovered that this response no longer guarantees in and out service. Midwesterners are a bit friendlier than Southern Californians—they like to get to know you a tiny bit better. The other day, I smugly explained to a friendly parent that yes, I have kids—sons, actually—and their names are Mychael and Malcolm, and they are ages five and seven. Confidently, I grabbed the car keys out of my purse and was just getting ready to bid my adieu, when the parent wondered, “What school do they go to?”

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