Urbina

Positive comments about county services that benefit senior citizens have been few and far between in this column for quite awhile, but today I am bursting with praise for the Board of Supervisors if they follow through on one report I’ve read.

It said they are “going to explore the feasibility of a new department focused solely on serving older adults.” It even was potentially suggested it could be called “Seniors Advancing Gracefully Everywhere or SAGE.”

We haven’t actually been neglected. We have our senior centers and special day trips, stuff like that but there has never been an autonomous special department just for older adults and our numbers are increasing all the time. In fact we are all living so long that we are outnumbering children. For a long time we wondered if there were any officials in county government that had some common sense, but now I confess there are some who realize the value of seniors. After all, we have lived so long we can be real historians when we want to be.

The report noted that even Mayor Eric Garcettti is said to support the idea. Now that’s really something. Supervisor Janice Hahn is the ramrod behind the project, which would focus on and utilize the strength, wisdom and dignity of seniors. I’m not only pleased, I’m impressed. Just don’t expect it to happen very soon. The projection stacks up to have a beginning in 2030.

In a recent advice column, someone wrote asking whether it was better to leave children with family members or sitters when planning to travel or to take them along and use it as an educational tool as well as a family function. I don’t know what the columnist advised, but I have some thoughts on that myself. It depends on several factors. One is the age of the children and second the type of travel it is.

Everybody knows that I don’t have to worry about that anymore, but there was a time when it was admittedly a question in my family. We made decisions about our trips depending on different factors: our destinations and the time we would be gone; the ages of the kids; whether we were driving or flying and the availability of family members to babysit.

The boys were pretty good travelers, but neither of them liked flying much if we were taking the small plane with their dad piloting. We had to have plenty of barf bags with us when we did that. Traveling by car was a different matter. We would sing and play games or talk about the history of the area around us, sometimes embellished with my exaggerations to make the tales more interesting. I made no guarantees about the whole truth of some of my stories.

In 1956, when we took our wonderful tour of Europe, we left them at home. We needed that time for ourselves alone and we weren’t sure how much we would be able to enjoy all the places we wanted to see … a German wineskeller for instance or an English pub. We figured our kids wouldn’t care that we didn’t take them. They’d have a better time at home with Grandma and Pop, Auntie Bettie, Uncle Donald and Cousin Susan, all of whom spoiled them rotten.

So the question of traveling with or without the children is a matter of family choice. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of getting away by yourselves. On the other times when we took them with us I enjoyed the chance to fill them with a lot of my nonsense and teach them that living should be filled with laughing and playing games plus learning at least a smattering of actual history, which I learned later they carried into their school work.

Seniors who have grandkids and great-grands know how much fun kids are.

In my younger days (way younger) I remember an incident when I had taken my oldest son and his cousin Susan to the park playground where a few of their friends were already having fun and I had a chance to listen to their conversation. We never talked down to our kids so they had a more adult vocabulary than a lot of their playmates. This was illustrated when one of the little girls slid down the slide and her top bared her stomach. One or the other girls commented:

“Your top doesn’t even cover your belly button.” My son felt it was his job to correct such language, so he said: “That’s not a belly button, it’s a navel.” His cousin Susan then decided to correct him. “Terry, that’s properly called an umbilicus.”

Today’s kids speak another language altogether.

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