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There's been a lot in the news lately about the scientific community's research on aging. If they can identify the factors that make people age, scientists say it will make a big step toward longer lives for all of us.

At the risk of putting a lot of scientists out of work, there's really no big mystery. Having kids causes old age. I don't have a lot of studies, charts, and analytical data to support that. All I do is offer myself as "Exhibit A".

Before I became a father, I was a young man. My stomach was flat, my skin was smooth, and my body parts did not creak. Then my first kid came out of the delivery room. I became an old man on the drive home from the hospital.

My back went first.

Their mother got the stretch marks, but I got the slipped disc from loading 700 pounds of port-a-potties into the trunk of the car every time we took a trip that lasted longer than half an hour.

After 8,000 miles of horsey-back rides across the kitchen floor, I had blisters on my palms, calluses on my knees and sway in my spine. Not to mention a craving for oats.

My body deteriorated rapidly after that. By the time I went to my 10 year high school reunion, former classmates were trying to guess whether or not I had been their home room teacher.

Nevertheless, those weren't really age spots on my hands and forearms. They were Sani-Flush stains from reaching into toilets to rescue combs, Lincoln Logs, and used to walk of Fisher-Price people. After a while I got used to walking around with one sleeve permanently rolled up, but I'm still trying to get over the effects of having to give mouth-to-mouth to a Baby Tears.

What looks like center -aged spread actually started in my late 20's? That's when I began to polish off leftovers from my kid's plates because there wasn't enough to save but there was too much to throw away. By the time my fourth kid came along, I actually began to enjoy pancakes with catsup on them.

The more kids I had, the older I got. All my life I had 20/20 vision. But by the time I had assisted on the first few hundred book reports that didn't get started until the night before they were due because "nobody told me about it," I was making weekly visits to an optometrist.

Midway through my 30's my nerves were steady and my blood pressure was normal. However, that was before my oldest kid got her temporary drivers license. I sat in the passengers seat of my new sports car and watched her shift from second gear to reverse without using the clutch at 45 miles an hour in our driveway.

Gray hair, wrinkles, and bags under my eyes? I've got them all. But that doesn't mean I'm ready to cash Social Security checks. It means I have a kid who attends a college that increases its tuition fees daily, another who wears $125 basketball shoes that he outgrows hourly, and a third with raging hormones who's mood changes ever minute on the minute.

My only consolation is that someday those kids will have children of their own.

Then, they'll be older than I am.

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