A boy’s view of old age

Scribbled drawing of a boy lying on a couch
Boy thinking about being very old

I’m asking people of various ages for their view of old age, especially life at 95 years old. That’s because I’m revising my play, The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People. The script is fine but after an exciting workshop, I’m trying some new tweaks. First I got a boy’s view of old age.

He was an 11-year-old boy related to me. Let’s call him H. He thought about each question seriously. Then he gave me an answers that were not at all emotive and not at all ageist. I was so impressed. Now I’m keen to carry out a slow and quiet exploration, regardless of whether the answers find their way into the script. Here is his answer in full.

A person/drummer talks about being 95

R. In the play someone might start, “Eleven-year-old schoolboy.”

H. (Indignantly) I’m not a schoolboy.

R. What are you then?

H. I’m a person. And a drummer.

R. What do you think your life would be like when you’re 95?

H. I might have a lot of not-working things. Like I might have sore eyes like you. I might have a dislocated hip.

R. Will there be any good things about being 95?

H. I would be able to relax most of the time. Like, retired.

R. Would you rather be eleven or 95?

H. Eleven. Because when I’m eleven I still have lots of life left.

Thank you, H.! For a boy’s honest, objective, believable view of extreme old age.

Perceptions of old age change as we age (Science Daily, 2018)

The shift from old age to very old age: an analysis of the perception of aging among older people (BMC Primary Care, 11 Jan 2022)

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20 thoughts on “A boy’s view of old age

  1. Jane Fritz says:

    I love this. What a great reminder that ageism works in both directions!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I’m pretty interested in the ways that attitudes change as we get older.

  2. Morena, Rachel. I love that you are still tweaking and thinking about your play. You never take things for granted. Your curiosity and interest in other people and the world is so inspiring. xx

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      My reply to you, Maggie, keeps getting stuck 😟

    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Fourth try at replying to you, Maggie. The tweaks are part of the process with a great director (Robin Payne) and dramaturg (Murray Lynch) β€” I enjoy it. And it’s a hot topic. I wonder what your children and grandchildren would say…

  3. judibwriting says:

    I’d love to ask my three and i/2 year old grandson the same questions. He is a pretty observant and articulate little fellow. Next time I see him… and yes, good dramatic tweaking even if just to see what comes next…

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Yes do, and please let me know the result!

  4. That was delightful.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I was delighted with his reply, and surprised.

  5. Sadje says:

    Very candid and honest replies.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      No fear of old age muddying his view.

      1. Sadje says:

        Nope, he can’t even imagine this age right now.

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        He tried hard!

      3. Sadje says:

        Cute. My grandson is 13- to him I’m very old at 62! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      4. Rachel McAlpine says:

        I believe you.

      5. Sadje says:


  6. It is so true how our perceptions change as we grow older. In my Bible Study, I am 60 and they, the rest of the group, all of them, are over 80. 3 are over 90. I have learned so much!!

    The two things that stand out the most are this: I thought a 90-year-old would have nothing to learn from me, but we have learned from one another.

    The other–sometimes a person over 80 has as much difficulty socially–sometimes more–than younger folks. All figured out? Not necessarily.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Interesting! I am constantly reminded that people get more and more different, more individual as we grow older… and older… and older…

  7. P.S. I will add this, only because it is true. When I was a teenager and in my 20’s, I was afraid of older folks. It was experiences with them that cured this.

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