Your forties: a time of growth and discovery

Posted on June 2, 2012



Treat me like a grownup



OK son, let’s talk some more about what to expect when you’re growing up to be just like your dad.

There are several stages you’ll experience throughout your life. I’m currently enduring my forties, so that’s what I’ll focus on, but here’s a quick recap of the stages you can expect leading up to your forties.


At eleven, you’re in the stage many refer to as The Tweens. That term was invented because you’re in-between the relative bliss of childhood and the relative total suckiness of the teens. The purpose of the Tweens stage is to give you a slow and controlled transition into puberty. It’s like that measured, reluctant slide into the pool during which you are trying to prepare for the discomfort you know is coming. And just like that slow immersion in the pool, the primary source of discomfort in puberty stems from the groin region.

Your Tweens are a time for practicing teen behaviors, sharpening your abilities to insert “like” between every second word, and figuring out how to sneak your pajamas into the laundry without your parents noticing the stains.


After your Tweens comes the Teen Puberty Stage. Watching people in this stage, it would seem that your teens are a time to stop thinking for yourself and just do whatever everyone else is doing. I hope that’s not you and suspect it won’t be. We’ve talked a lot about puberty in this blog, so I won’t dwell on it here. Just know it’ll suck for your mom and me as much as it will for you.


The twenties are a time of independence funded largely by a dependence on mom and dad’s money. You’ll do all kinds of self-discovery, and when you discover for yourself that you can live a lot cheaper at your parent’s home, you’ll also discover that we’ve changed the locks. Don’t take it personally; it’s for your own good.


Your thirties are an interesting time, but I wouldn’t know. I would tell you about the thirties, but it was all a big parenting-induced blur. I’ve got nothing.


I recently turned 40 and wanted to spend most of this post giving you my initial impression of this stage.1

Your forties are a time of growth and discovery. You’ll grow ear hair, nose hair, grey hair and discover random rogue hairs just about anywhere you didn’t think hair could grow. You’d think from their thick, twisted appearance that they’ve left a home in the crowded pubic region for the quiet rural life of an earlobe, or the rugged, remote adventure of a toe knuckle.

Now, when I say grow, I really mean appear overnight. Freakish, supercharged pubic hairs appearing when and where they bloody well please. It’s like your follicles are experiencing their own mid-life crises.

There’s been a lot of talk online lately about who’s better at certain things–moms or dads. It’s a silly question that’s resulted in lots of needless banter. But I’m going to weigh in here: dads are better at growing freakish, rogue, supercharged pubic hairs in places where they don’t belong. Go ahead, all you mommy bloggers, call me a chauvinist. Bring on the hate mail.

You’d think that by the time you reach middle age, your body will have peaked and be entering the downhill phase of maturation. And, for the most part it is. The only real exception will be your eyebrow hairs, which will just be reaching their youthful experimental phase. They’ll be discovering a new independence and passion for expressing themselves as individuals. Your eyebrow hairs will find the courage to be long and straight in a brow filled with short, gentle curves; to veer left where other hairs would veer right; to reach out and extend two inches from your forehead when other hairs only dream of escaping the conformity of the brow. It’s pretty damn inspiring, really.

The forties are also a time for discovering new medical terms and specialists you never knew existed. Words that always made you giggle, like “proctologist”, take on new meaning. Where you used to snicker when you heard it, now you squirm uncomfortably in your seat. You finally get that TV and movie gag where the doctor snaps on the rubber glove with his index finger extended and an evil grin—and it turns out it’s not that funny.

It’s in your forties that gravity begins to actually get stronger. I don’t know much about the physics of it, but going from horizontal to vertical becomes much more difficult. It’s especially strong in the mornings. We were taught in school that gravity is a universal force that affects us all pretty much the same way. I’m pretty sure Newton was in his 20s or 30s when he came up with that crap. The reality is that gravity is more powerful on people over 40 than others.

Your forties will also be a time when all the meaningless garbage that you stored in your memory over the years starts interfering with the two or three actually important bits of information that you need. For example, I can recite all the lyrics to the Styx song “Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto” but it’ll take me 15 minutes of running through every name I know before I actually stumble across yours. And any room that takes me more than 30 seconds to get to is too far away for me to arrive remembering what I went there for.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great things about this stage in one’s life, and I had them all on the tip of my tongue a few minutes ago, but they seem to have escaped me. But if you want, I’ll give you all the lyrics to “Add it Up” by the Violent Femmes.


1By “recently” I mean within the last 10 years or so.