Do You Know This Band Pearl Jam? YES I KNOW THEM SAM I AM!

I do! I do! I do so like this band Pearl Jam!

So you know I teach preschool. The kids in our care are Pre-K, which means they are either 4 or 5. Which means we deal with parents who range in age from mid-20's to mid-40's (and a few older). It didn't hit me how young some of the parents are until the day last year when we were discussing volcanoes.

"Miss Jenny! Have you ever seen a real live volcano erupt?" one of our budding seismologists inquired.

I answered in my teacher voice, "Well, no. But I do remember when Mount St. Helens erupted. That happened in another state but we all watched it on the news. It was crazy! I bet if you ask your parents tonight, they'll remember, too."

And then I did some quick math in my head (yes, I can do some quick math in my head. Just not algebra. Or fractions.).  The girl who asked me was five. Her parents were some of our younger ones, probably 29, 30-ish.

I am 47. Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, when I was 14. That meant this girl's parents hadn't even been BORN yet. This was one of the first times it really and truly occurred to me: I WAS NO LONGER ONE OF THOSE "YOUNG" PEOPLE. My middle-agedness smacked me upside the head with a resounding thwap. 

Since then, I've taken note of the signs of youthfulness so many of my preschool parents exhibit. They don't look as tired or as soul-drained or as thick around the middle as many of my peers do. The women have natural hair colors, very few wrinkles and most days, it looks as though they've put some effort and thought into dressing themselves. They wear pants with zippers and fancy shoes that make my feet curl up like the Wicked Witch of the West's did when Dorothy got the ruby slippers.

And the dads: they are so much cooler looking than the dads in my demographic. They wear distressed jeans and shiny puffy jackets and knit caps. Don't get me wrong, there are oodles of men over 40 who wear these exact same items, but let's be honest: you can't hide life's wear and tear under a Patagonia jacket and some True Religion jeans. Some things just can't be denied, and age is one of them.

So anyhoo. One of our dads, who normally drops his child off in the mornings, was gone for a few days. His wife took over the drop-off and as we were making small talk she mentioned that her hubby was out of town, seeing his favorite band. We ladies all giggled as she sighed and hoped out loud that he was behaving himself. "Oh, of course he is!" we assured her.

A few days later, dad was back. Now, he's not one of our baby-faced daddies. This one has a little bit of mileage on him. God, no, he's not quite as old as me, but I'm thinking he probably remembers Mount St Helens. He hung out for a few minutes, making sure his kid washed hands, signed in...all the morning routines a preschooler has. I approached Dad and said, "So your wife told us you road-tripped to see a band? Which one?"

He looked at me the same way I must have looked at my mom when she screamed "THERE ARE NO WINDOWS ON MY COMPUTER! HOW CAN I OPEN ONE?". Or how my kids look at me when I say "What's the dealio with this "snapchat", Coolio?".

Slowly, he began explaining things to this here granny: "Well, there's this band called Pearl Jam..."


"this band" called Pearl Jam? I know a little bit about this band called Peal Jam, boy.

I wanted to pull up one of our little tiny chairs and sit down and discuss this band called Pearl Jam. Mayhap I'd regale this Dad with the story of Lollapalooza '92, where a not-so-grizzled Miss Jenny danced in the dirt wearing cut offs, a black t-shirt and a Guatemalan purse from Pier One...first we rocked out to that band called Pearl Jam, then dreamy Chris Cornell and Soundgarden, then front freaking row for Ice Cube and THEN gazed up at the toned trunks and loins of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I have hazy memories of bonding with strangers in line for the porta-potties and also of pretty much melting into a grungy puddle when I saw Eddie Vedder in the flesh, understanding that we were quite possibly sharing some of the very same oxygen molecules.

I wanted to tell this Dad all about how in my dreamy fantasy life I have a reunion with the boy I loved for 12 weeks one summer, and while we are first embracing and catching up I can hear the lyrics to "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" resounding through my mind. Hands down one of the best songs ever written and damn if I don't shed a tear every single time I hear it. I may or may not sing this song, loudly and badly, at the top of my lungs when I'm throwing myself a pity party now and again.

Maybe I could've told Dad that one of my crowning achievements as a parent was the day I realized that my two toddlers who were strapped in their carseats behind me were crooning "ooooh I'm still alive...." along with me and Pearl Jam. Raffi? Please. Baby Beluga's got nothing on those Seattle gods.

We could have rapped about one of the first dates I had with my future ex-husband, where we went to see the movie "Singles" and I gasped out loud when Eddie and Stone and the rest of Pearl Jam appeared on the big screen. And then I'd tell him that I bought the soundtrack and the movie and every once in a while I'll pop it into the DVD player and have a look at it just for shits and giggles.

And then I would have asked him, "For the love of Pete...how old do you think I am, man?"

As you know by now, I am not one to actually say out loud what I'm thinking at any given moment. I have these big dialogues in my head and then go home and write a lengthy blog post about it. So, no, I didn't tell Dad any of this. I think I said, "I'm so jealous!" or something equally brilliant and was satisfied to see the look of surprise in Dad's eyes when he realized that his child's frumpy middle aged preschool teacher with the gray roots actually knew who "this band" is.

I colored my hair later that night. While listening to some Pearl Jam, of course.


  1. The first time this age thing hit me was when I was talking about Bruce Willis to a babysitter when she watched the kids so I could go see the Sixth Sense. I mentioned the TV show he was in -- Moonlighting. She had no idea what I was talking about -- turns out she was born around the time that show was on TV.

    Now this age thing happens ALL THE TIME. Too often. I can't color my hair often enough.

    1. Oh dear..I loved Moonlighting! Loved it! How funny that we kind of assume time stopped when we were born. I mean, we obviously know it didn't (kids and all) but the whole "how can they not know what I'm talking about??" thing is pretty funny.

      I've gotten the blank stare about Seinfeld references. Scary.

  2. haha! I know Pearl Jam too! Yes, it really hits ya when you are talking about something that happened when you were younger and the person you are talking to has no idea. Happens far too often these days.......oh, and Mt. St. Helens I remember too! Going to color my hair today.

    1. I'm pleased that so many of us will have freshly colored tresses now :) My work here is done.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. I LOVE THIS BLOG POST! I remember back in 1991 when I bought this new cassette tape by Pearl Jam, I felt like such a nerd because nobody else in my class had heard of them. But the first time I heard "Alive", that was it. I was hooked. And you are correct, "Elderly Woman..." is one of the greatest songs ever written. It should be sung...loudly....whenever you hear it. I'm a wee bit jealous of you for having actually seen them at Lollapalooza, back when it was any good. But let's be honest, I was way too much of a chickenshit to have attended. Sadly, the only time I've ever seen them live was in 2000 in a big open amphitheater with lawn seats. But it was a pretty great night. *sigh* I think I'll go watch PJ20 now on the DVR.

    Also, I just colored my hair last night.

    1. Thanks Traci!

      I have not seen PJ20!!! Do I need to watch it???

    2. Yes!! It's just interesting to see how they came together. I haven't watched the whole thing yet. I need to!!

  4. Last year, I rolled up to a gas station one fine warm sunny day with Guns N Roses coming out of my minivan speakers, quite loudly. I went in to pay and a 20-something dude makes eye contact with me in line and says, "Guns N Roses in the minivan. Right on!"
    I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.

    1. Laugh! Always laugh. And yes to Guns and Roses. I saw them in 91, I think. Or 92. Such a good concert. Cuckoo Axl, though. Where is he now?

  5. Love Pearl Jam! For a while, in the very recent past, my cell phone ringtone was the intro to Yellow Ledbetter. Ahhhh.

    Never saw them in concert, but I did see Nirvana!

    I remember when I had my first baby I was one of the youngest of all the mommy groups. Now these moms just get younger and younger than me and here I am contemplating Botox.

    1. Yellow Ledbetter! Love it!

      I'm officially jealous about Nirvana. Do you like Foo Fighters? I love 'em.

      I hear ya on the mommy groups thing. I remember thinking how ANCIENT some of the moms were. And here I am, all Crypt Keeper myself. Gotta love it.

      Thanks for reading :)

  6. I just don't mention certain bands and tv shows around suspiciously youthful people! Loved Moonlighting and Guns and Roses back in the day.

  7. My niece told me that my music was weird one day. I was listening to Nirvana... That's the point in my life that I realized I was getting older. Love your blog by the way, new follower! :)


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