Friday, February 7, 2014

The Cradle to Grave Bell Curve

     Ah, The Bell Curve.  I think I remember studying it in school.    I don't remember what I thought about it or why.  Looking it up today, I see that the first few Google pages of online sites devoted to it reference a study in the mid 1990s. Well, I was out of school by then.  So now I really don't know where I remember it from.   Maybe I'm confusing it with playing the bells in music class, or drawing bells in art class.  Whatever.

     Why am I even thinking about this?  It's all I'm thinking about these days because I've discovered a new application for that Bell Curve and I'm going to call it The Cradle to Grave Bell Curve.  It takes into account a person's age and the amount of time expected to address the needs of that person at a certain age.  Simply put, if you draw the bell and assign ages to the up and down slopes, my observation has been that the same things that happen on the up-slope will happen on the down-slope.  Stay with me here.  I'll clear it up.

     Babies want it NOW, or they cry.  Toddlers want it NOW, or they scream.  Young children want it NOW or they throw tantrums.  Teenagers want it NOW or they rebel, regardless of the consequences that often result in the parental-infliction of pain.

     Then it all tapers off.  Young adults have the idea that it's all just beginning.  There's plenty of time for them to get a good job, find a partner, raise a family.  We discover the blissful feeling of procrastination.  Tomorrow is when things will happen.  There's no good reason to do everything today.  Then, it all changes again when old age hits.  And it hits hard.

     Currently, I'm in a household with an 86-year-old and a 90-year-old and it's fascinating (and exhausting) to observe the down-slope of my Cradle to Grave Bell Curve.

     No matter what he needs, 86-year-old Dad wants it NOW!  Ice cream, cookies, coffee, a pen, a napkin, whatever.  If it doesn't come now, he quickly asks what's wrong with me.  (And that's the only thing he does quickly these days.)

     Each time I explain that nothing's wrong.  I'm just busy.  But he keeps asking.  He doesn't get it.  Neither would a baby on the up-slope.

     My experience with children is limited to my nephews and the  children of friends.  But I can still draw the parallel on the Bell. 

     When I tell 90-year-old Aunt Sophie we're going out to lunch, she gets her jacket on and stands at the door, even if I just said, "We're going out to lunch in 20 minutes."  She doesn't want to be late.  And she'll stand at the door waiting.  Of course, seeing that, I  rush around to leave NOW!  (Is she using psychology on me? Nah.  Hmm?)

     I'm trying to be more understanding.  After all, I'll be there some day (if someone doesn't shoot me in frustration first).  I'm sure Dad and Auntie somehow soothed my demands when I was very young.  So I feel the need to reciprocate now.  And the fact that they act like children really makes me believe it's payback.  But here's the scary part:  Aunt Sophie and her brother (my father) are 4 years apart.  So are my brother and I.  Someday, I expect my nephew Kyle to come to the realization that there's a Cradle to Grave Bell Curve.  And when he does, I'll probably have my jacket on, ready for him to take me to lunch at the same time his father is demanding a cup of coffee NOW!

     Good luck Kyle and thank you NOW.


  1. Welcome to my world! Although I miss the elders in my life, I have to admit it is easier having only one--especially because she isn't demanding and she is always appreciative of all I do for her. Maybe it's the dementia (hers, not mine!). Enjoy!

  2. Been there, done that Kerry. In the past with my father-in-law and we won't go into the second time because you know what I mean. Wish I would say it get better but it doesn't. Keep the wine handy and hang in there.

  3. Quite a challenge. As only you can, you've perceived the humor of this situation and shared it through you writing. Well done.