Senior Stories

Bored at 80? Have a Baby

Star Trek’s Scotty has a new baby. James Doohan, 80, the heavyset chief engineer on TV’s USS Enterprise, has given new meaning to his old refrain, “She’s givin’ me all she’s got.”

Author Saul Bellow revealed recently that he, too, is a new papa. He’s 85. Should give him plenty of material for any book he’s planning. Especially the juicy parts about changing diapers, getting peed or puked on as he leaves for the opera, walking in circles all night with a colicky kid, and experiencing 18 hours of nothing but screams.

At an age when most of us seniors are wearily enjoying great-grandchildren, thankful that they’re soon going home with mommy and daddy, Doohan and Bellow are back on the front lines of parenthood. To fight the good fight when you’re 30 is tough enough. Add 50 years, and you’ve got to wonder about a man’s sanity.

What are these guys trying to prove, anyway?

In 20 years, Doohan and his child can have a double celebration of college graduation and 100th birthday. Good time as any to bond with a little one-on-one father/son basketball, or take a 1,000-mile drive together down the Baja.

What I don’t understand is why these guys didn’t learn their lesson 50 years ago when they were fathers the first time around. I suppose there are advantages to raising a child while retired – the round-the-clock attendance any kid demands certainly tends to fill any hours of boredom, to say nothing of the money saved on greens fees and fishing lures.

And when you’re 95, is there anything that you’d rather do than argue with a smart-alecky, foul-mouthed, know-it-all teenager? I know that’s my dream for my doting old age.

Suddenly Trivia: Mr. Spock, the first officer on the original Star Trek series (1966 – 1969) would have had trouble having a kid at age 80. Why? a) His ears kept getting in the way, b) It wouldn’t be logical, c) Vulcans only mate once every seven years.

And yet, maybe Doohan and Bellow are on to something.

You know the saying, “If you want to stay young, stay around the young.” You can’t hang around much younger than a newborn. Maybe some of that youth does rub off, just like drool and snot.

And playing with a small child has to be good for you. Tragically, most of us have stopped playing, forgotten how for the most part. A new father with a new kid can’t help but get back into a frolicking mood.

Here’s something I heard the other day that makes sense: We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success.

  1. Laugh and find humor every day.
  2. Have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many dead people walking around and most don’t even know it!
  3. There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. Anybody can grow older. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.
  4. Have no regrets. We elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do.

Nowhere does it say to have a new kid.

When Milton Berle, 92, heard about Doohan and Bellow, he was quoted in Entertainment Weekly as saying: “More power to them… I checked with my wife, and she said no [more kids], so we’ll keep what we have.”

I guess congratulations are in order, but I’m glad those babies don’t live in my house.

My wife concurs.

Suddenly Trivia Answer: c) He only came into heat every seven years.



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