My 9 year old asked me the other day, "Mom, when did you become an adult? I mean, when did you become a grown up?"
"Well, son, those are two entirely different things...."
"Huh?" his attention was already wavering.
"Let's see...well, legally I became an adult at 18. But, frankly, I don't think I actually became an 'adult' until I was somewhere around 24. As to when I became a grown up....I'm still working on that one."
"I have no idea what you mean."
"Me either, babe."
Okay, not completely sure on how to proceed with this one. How do I explain to him the importance of acting responsibly while maintaining the notion of being young at heart....without totally confusing the poor guy? I'm not so sure that I've actually accomplished said task.
Well, first of all, the notion that someone is capable of acting as an adult at the age of 18 is slightly ridiculous. Even crazier is that our government considers 18 year olds mature enough to go to war but not quite so to drink a beer. Don't get me started....
Honestly, I can remember when I finally recognized that I was, in fact, an adult. I was a ripe old 24 and had just gone through a series of unfortunate events, all of which were of my own doing. I had a choice to make. I could have surrendered and run back home to live with my parents until I was ready to act like an adult, OR, I could face it head on, chalk it all up to life lessons and trudge ahead. I begrudgingly chose option #2. I knew I'd never forgive myself otherwise.
I suppose it does take some level of crisis to snap us out of adolescenthood and heave us into adulthood. That's one of those things that other adults neglect to tell us, as well as "child birth hurts badly", "there is no such thing as financial freedom" and, the grand daddy of them all, "life is NOT always fun".
Alright, it's not really all that bad. You know I can't make it through a blog without quoting a movie.....but, one of my all time favorites comes from the movie 'Parenthood'....
Grandma: You know, when I was 19, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
So, I guess part of being an adult means being able to take the bad with the good. Makes sense.
Now, as to being a grown up....does anyone actually accomplish that? Ever? Well, not anyone that I spend much time with has. I'm happy to report.
I think not acting your age every now and again is a very good thing. As long as you do it in moderation. We all know someone who refuses to grow up. You know, the good time guy or gal who's always up for the party but is no where to be found when the proverbial s**t comes down.
But, life is just too short to be serious all the time! It's finding the perfect balance between frivolity and practicality that is the real task at hand. And, I'm pretty sure this must take the entirety of a life.
My parents are shining examples of striking that happy medium of a joyful AND purposeful life. They have lived well. They acted responsibly and enjoyed every second. And, even in the midst of creating what they both know are their final memories, they are doing it with finesse. Because they must know that somehow they managed to take this business of being an adult seriously all the while not always acting like a grown up.
I only hope I can do it half as well as my parents have.
So, before publishing this I allowed my son to read it in hopes that maybe I could impart some of my "wisdom" on him.
"I don't really get it, mom."
"Me either, babe. Maybe someday we will both figure it out."