You know when you are a kid, you assume that at some time you magically become a grown-up? You believe there will come a point, a precise moment when there is a loud "ping!" (I always imagined a ping) and you suddenly acquire all the attributes of grown-up-ness. You will know how bank accounts work, how to make real coffee, what inflation is. You will become interested in the news and weather, rather than cartoons. You will suddenly prefer to sit still and chat rather than run around the park screaming at the top of your lungs for no reason other than that you can. You will have money in your purse ALL THE TIME and yet not want to run straight out and spend it all on sweets and comics. You will be allowed to stay up as late as you want and yet decide to go to bed early.
From the child's perspective, I always thought this was rather a gloomy prospect. A bit like that bit in "The Wizard of Oz" where Dorothy steps out of the house into Munchkinland and the film turns from grainy black and white to dazzling Technicolcour, except in reverse.
Of course the truth is that we never really grow up. Inside the head of every single "adult" is a 16 year old wondering what the hell happened. You don't grow up, you just learn new stuff and run out of time to do some of the fun stuff. You get a bit of experience of life and put it into practice (if I have to be at work at 9am tomorrow, there is no way I am going out to bars until 2am. I will die.) That's not being a grown-up. It's just self-preservation.
But as you get older, despite knowing inside for certain that you are not grown-up and you are not turning into your parents, the outward indicators keep piling up, making it harder and harder to maintain that illusion/delusion. Mortgage? Check. Know what the hell a mortgage is? Check. Actually turn on the TV for the news? Check. Kids? Grey hair? Wrinkles? Check. Check. Check. For goodness sake, I even start sentences with "When I was young, we didn't have.......(complete with DVD, video games, PVRs, internet etc).
I knew it was getting dicey when the children started asking questions beginning with those awful words "In the olden days,......." I remember having conversations with my parents where I roared with laughter at my Dad telling me about his job as a boy, delivering milk around the dark streets and closes of Leith, pulling a handcart with an oil lantern on it because there were no streetlights. It sounded Dickensian to me and was proof positive that my Dad was old, old old. Looking back, I must have been about 12 at the time, which would make my Dad about 36. That's 5 years younger than I am now. And now I recognise that look in my boys' eyes when I tell them that you couldn't pause live TV or even record it when I was young. When a programme was on, you watched it and it was gone. You couldn't see it again. To kids brought up on endless DVDs, multiple TV channels the internet and PVRs, that sounds like the stone age.
But I am not defeated. I am not a grown up and I can prove it. I may have a few gray hairs. They may not all be on my head. I may have wrinkles. I may look forward to a sit down and a nice cup of tea more than I used to. But I don't wear glasses. Hah! Accordingly, I hereby declare that until you have to wear glasses, you are still a youngster*. So there.
*I reserve the right to change this rule if and when I have to get glasses.