Tuesday, 25 October 2011


One thing I never understood when I was young was why everybody could ask my age but I couldn't ask how old a grown-up was. This hypocrisy was dramatically brought to my attention when I was sent to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind. I lacked the space to include this story in Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) so I'm relating it here.

I forget where we were headed that hazy Saturday morning in October of 1964 but I remember that I and the others were going for a walk around the grounds with Mrs. Sandyford. She was our weekend supervisor. As we walked, she asked our ages.

Knowing little of the social morays of adults at the time, I innocently asked, "How old are you, Mrs. Sandyford?"

"You should never ask a lady's age," she admonished. "It's not polite."

"How come?"

"Well," she faltered, "you just shouldn't, that's all. Women don't like to be asked how old they are."

"How come?" I insisted.

She turned to another child and began talking to him. The way she wouldn't look at me and the tone in her voice suggested that I was being a naughty boy. I decided not to ask her any more questions.

Though women today are more open and less vain about their ages, I still am cautious about asking such personal questions. It really doesn't matter how old a person is in years. Maturity of attitude is the important factor in a person's character. I've met some mature children and some immature adults in my five decades of life. My hope is that I'm one person who others feel has learned wisdom.

Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this compelling story. You're also welcome to contact me directly.

1 comment:

  1. When I was a child, my mother told me how old she and my dad were but said that most adults don't like to be asked that question. Nowadays when people ask my age, I proudly tell them I'm fifty, and they don't believe it because I look younger.

    When I met my husband several years ago, I knew better than to ask his age. He appeared to be in his mid 50's, and I was in my 40's. When he proposed to me, he said that he was nineteen years older than me which was a shock because he was older than he looked. Age is a funny thing, isn't it?

    Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome


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