Friday, 25 April 2008

Grown up. Not.

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.


  1. Hmm. That means I was an adult aged 14.

    All evidence points to the contrary.

  2. I live in the unfair world of the 30-somethings where I have lots of gray hair, but also getting the occasional zit. So not fair.

    I've owned a couple houses, have a growing retirement account, and two children and yet still sometimes feel like I'm just 'playing house' -- Like there should have some sort of test I had to pass before I was allowed to be a grown-up and I missed that day of school.

    But the kids are with their dad this weekend which means I can be a kid all I want...

  3. The glasses rule would mean I was grown up at age 10. Maybe you should amend it to read when you get bifocals....

  4. Oh my, I never considered the impact of DVR's. I'm 30, and I'm still just amazed at the changes in the world I've seen - I remember when there was NO INTERNET! and NO CELL PHONES! and NO GAME CONSOLES!

    God, we truly lived in the Dark Ages. Remember when answering the phone was an adventure because you didn't know who was calling?

  5. How's this for a test of old age (men only)...

    - I'm old and I know it because I think about death more than I think about sex!

  6. I'm the sort of person who is always waiting for someone to catch me out - to realise I'm not really any good at my job, I'm not really any good at being a wife and mother, I can't really run my household....I must have missed the test too.

    As for glasses - last time I went or a routine eye test, it was hinted at that I was heading for a time when my arms wouldn't be long enough anymore, so I guess I'm on the fringes of adulthood now.

  7. Luckily, my kids are not old enough to say boo about my age!

    But, and I'm sure you'll all laugh at me, I am turning 25 at the end of May and for some reason, am hearing that "ping" noise you wrote about.

    Sometimes, probably because I had children at a young age, I feel like I act too old for my age! But then after reading your blog post, I come away with the conclusion that you're only old once you stop trying new things and once you get set in your ways.

    "Nature has a way of breaking what does not bend". Stay flexible and you'll never age!

    Is that such an American new-agey thing to say?

  8. Turning 25, Mummy Dearest. Ha!

    Yes, Loth, I know exactly what you mean. It's the very worst thing about getting old: that you don't get the wisdom that you always assumed would come along with it.

    Personally I'm proud that at the age of 57, I still don't need glasses. Or only to read the telephone directory.

  9. Oh My, I have been going to the doctor for a few years now hoping against hope that I will finally need glasses. No luck yet. At 41 I can't wait much longer, I want them while I can still look cute in them, not old.

  10. I FEEL old sometimes, but I don't feel like growing up. I enjoy doing fun kid stuff but also catch myself saying "When I was your age..." followed by some ridiculous comment about what we didn't have!

    I considered myself aging when my hair turned grey enough for people to ask where my daughter got her red hair from. My comment "It was red until I had her, then it turned grey!"

  11. Hi there - found you thru Liz at A Bright Future! Love this post, can totally relate! I was just telling a friend, we don't really grow up. It all still feels like someone else's life...