When I was seven or eight years old I was asked by a school teacher the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
It was perfectly timed – I had contemplated this just a few weeks before and had made my decision after watching the film ‘Splash’ on the television.
“A mermaid,” I replied.
I don’t remember the teacher’s response, but I knew at that point that I had it all figured out. All I needed was some salt to put in my bath water, and after my tail had formed I would swim around in the ocean and eat fish. I wouldn’t have to answer to anybody, be told what to do – my life would be my own.
However, there were a few things in my carefully crafted plan that I hadn’t taken into consideration:
1. I was a proficient swimmer, but hated swimming in sea water of any kind.
2. I was (and still am) desperately afraid of a particular sea creature, to the point where pictures of these things will send me running and screaming from the room.
3. I don’t like raw fish.
Admittedly, it wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had in my life.
At the end of a lesson the other day, one of my student’s, who usually likes to keep me on my toes by asking me random questions, was complaining to a friend of his about the fact that his mother had taken his XBox as punishment for not doing his homework. He turned to me and said “Miss, I’m sick of being told what to do – I can’t wait to be an adult.” I smiled and informed him that being an adult doesn’t mean that you stop being told what to do by others. He looked a bit confused and thought about it for a while.
“So when do you get to be a proper adult then?”
Truth be told, up until that point I hadn’t genuinely given it much thought. I don’t actually see myself as being in the ‘adult’ category – I tick the 25-40 box on forms, I’ve gained all the qualifications I need to for a while, I have a full time job, I maintain my own house, I’m in a long term and committed relationship, but mentally my mind doesn’t feel like it has changed since I was eighteen. However:
I now eat dessert even if I haven’t finished my main meal… and then some. I have my cake, and I eat another one too, because I can!
Evenings are spent wearing sweat pants and hooded sweaters – maximum comfort is needed after a long day at work.
My mother, while still offering advice when I ask for it, is no longer my legal guardian, and has her own life in which she can make her own plans without having to consider us. I can do the same.
I can have an alcoholic beverage without worrying that somebody is going to yell ‘have you been drinking?!’ at me.
I used to almost enjoy being ill as a child because my mother would look after me and I got to miss a few days of school. Now, being ill sucks – I have to look after myself. I still get to miss a few days of school, but now I return to several hundred emails and have to catch up on everything that I missed.
I’m always a little envious when I see a child walking down the street in their favourite Disney princess or superhero outfit. However, they don’t make Iron Man outfits in my size. I checked.
Shopping for items for my house is now an exciting experience, as is buying new kitchenware.
I teach children that have mothers that are younger than I am.
My wages used to be spent on really good things that I wanted. Now it’s spent on bills. And bills. And more bills. And cat food.
Loud music from my neighbours annoys me.
I use specific brands of toiletries, washing detergent and fabric softener, and have been known to have discussions with my friends about it.
I spent most of my childhood trying to extend my bedtime to a later point in the evenings. Now, the earlier I get to bed, the happier I am.
I used to constantly watch the clock during outings so as not to miss my curfew. Now, I don’t even wear a watch – I’ll get back when I get back.
I have suddenly developed an appreciation for music by The Smiths.
I worry about my credit rating.
The cupboard fairy that kept our cupboards stocked with food at my mothers house must have run away – my cupboards seem to be endlessly bare. Similarly, the laundry and ironing fairy disappeared many years ago too.
I don’t have shop assistants giving me ‘beady eye’ glances when I buy cigarettes or a bottle of wine anymore, except for one man who still asks me for I.D. even though he’s seen my passport on several occasions now.
I suppose, looking at the evidence, I am an adult. However, I don’t think that there is an age that can be associated with adulthood, more a mentality. I’m not exactly the mermaid that I wanted to be, but I’m happy, so I’m grateful. And being an adult doesn’t stop you from occasionally participating in childhood indulgences.
So, if anyone sees a slightly overweight, 33 year old woman dressed as Iron Man and happily swinging on the swings at the local park, then that may possibly be me…
What about you? At what point did you start to realise that you were an ‘adult’?
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I’m a few years older than you, with a 9 year old, a mortgage, a company – and I still want to be a unicorn. When I hit 30, I thought I’d be ‘grown up’ when I turned 40. Now that I’m almost there, I think, maybe at 50? Or maybe it’ll be the day I stop actively seeking out bright trainers and dancing recklessly at bus stops? And what is the opposite of reckless? Is it reck? Or reckful? Or recksome? See, if we’re grown up, I would know this!
I knew I was an adult when i was nine. I realized when I was shopping in the grocery store with my mom. To be honest. I think in part I was right. But mostly not. For the record. I moved out when I was 19 and felt a huge burden lift. I only had to care for myself. I don’t think I will ever grow up. But, I am an adult. not sure if that makes sense. The idea of settling down still makes me gag even though I am a mom, married and an expat. I always want to let it all go and fly of on a new adventure! As for my childhood aspirations I wanted to be a mermaid or a genie or Asian.
A timely post. My identity froze at around 25, which is now 20 years ago. Since that time, I’ve got married, had two kids and now two dogs. We have a mortgage and parenting involves constant responsibility and usually me being told what to do either by the schedule or the little peoples directly. Wandering off into the blogosphere like your mermaid is my daily fix.
Tomorrow, our son turns 11 and it’s hard to know where that time has gone. That said, the first year of his life was agonisingly slow. I wrote a post looking at the quirkinessof time for my daughter’s birthday ten days ago: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/grow-slow-happy-birthday-miss-9/
My grandmother used to tell how she used to look in the mirror and see this old woman looking back at her and almost wonder who it was. It certainly wasn’t how she saw herself.
I love your plans to be a mermaid and I wouldn”t let growing up or a few hurdles stop you. At least, close your eyes and let your imagination soar.
Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.
If I never leave Neverland, and simply remain here with the Lost Boys forever, I don’t ever have to become an adult!
I am 80+. It’s possible that I am an adult but I am not sure.
I realized I was an adult when I look at my teenage kids and is reminded that when I was their ages, I didn’t have to worry about any bills. At their ages, I would go to the post office and all I had to do was hand the bills over to my parents but now my kids hand the bills over to me. So, this is how adult feels lol.
OOOOO, I think you do need to at least be a legal adult age before considering yourself an adult. I can see it now.Students you’ve taught reading your blog after discovering you, “Miss Suzie Says, you don’t have to be a certain age as long as you’re mental.” Hmm, Miss Suzie Says. A new blog post weekly? I soo love that. I can see it now, a recounting of some adventure in teaching or telling the Bloke what to do.
Um, what were we talking about. Oh, I get my medications laid out in cups for 5-6 times a day with slips of paper denoting the times to take them. I forget even then. I forget to eat. I forget a lot of things. I have an excuse though. But, I discuss life with my son, teach him in calm and on his level how things are.
One of my pulpit things, no, I am not a preacher, let kids be kids. I teach my son to be a kid as much as possible while he can. With me and my health problem that I suffered he’s grown up too much, thus I encourage him every chance I can to not worry about things and just play.
I guess I noticed in my current stage of life that I was an adult when talking with my son and pulling from my gut feelings about how to help him with life situations. With how to not let him see that his daddy is hurting all the time or perhaps doesn’t remember how to make scrambled eggs that morning.
Miss Suzie Says. I like it.
I have an additional symptom of growing up…being unable to read packaging labels and needing reading glasses. I used to laugh at my Dad using his but now I am following suit before I die of food poisoning. I was doing some baking for my son’s birthday and in very fine print the lactose free cream said: “not suitable for whipping”. Grr. I read this after I had been beating the @#$% out of it with no change for 15 minutes. Getting old…I guess that’s beyond growing up!xx Rowena
“So, if anyone sees a slightly overweight, 33 year old woman dressed as Iron Man and happily swinging on the swings at the local park, then that may possibly be me…” <- This image made me laugh so much! Oh, to be a kid again…
My identity froze at 15. With maybe a little 65, retired. I’m a mess, but I get it—bills, bills and more bills…
Reblogged this on The Dependent Independent and commented:
At what point did you start to realise that you were an ‘adult’?
Becoming a mother really drove the point home for me. Haha.
What a great read 🙂 I had a similar wish until I was viciously attacked by jelly fish in 1996 lol… I’m scared of going past my knees in the ocean to this day!
“So, if anyone sees a slightly overweight, 33 year old woman dressed as Iron Man and happily swinging on the swings at the local park, then that may possibly be me…”
Or it could be me, except I’m now 34. Ha ha- great post!
A child of the forties and fifties, I wanted to be an engineer on a steam locomotive. I am still trying to land that job!
How about when you know you need to go for a pee but you really just can’t be bothered
My husband and I were talking about this same thing just recently, because I received an invite to my 20th High School reunion. Officially, the day I graduated high school, I moved in with my then-boyfriend who was 21. So that felt like “Wow, we’re adults now.” But pretty much everyday after that we’ve both feel like we’re still kids.
Hi! I’m over from Austins Blog Party. I don’t know why I haven’t found your blog before because I have seen you around on other blogs. I love your sense of humor. I’m older than you and still feel like a kid, a kid with bills and responsibilities. lol
Don’t you do #SundayBlogShare?
Um, nope, at least not that I’m aware of, but you know, that old age thing sometimes pops up. I will have to look into it and jog my memory. lol
Haha! I’ve seen you on Mer’s blog in the comments – lovely to meet you!
I love Mer! Yeah, I’ve seen you there and other places too. Lovely to meet you too!
She’s lovely isn’t she!!
Yes she is.
Yep, I go for the dessert first and the maximum comfort, too.
I once sat in a lecture by Stephen Gould. He was showing the skulls of baby monkeys and how much they resembled human skulls. He showed the changes in the skulls once the primates became adults and postulated (with humor) that humans are simply monkeys that never grew up.
I like that mental movie. 🙂
You know, I have always felt like I did when I was 17, even when I became a grammy, I was determined to be the one who skipped and ran with my grandchildren. I still do that… I never have felt ”old and adult” until I turned 60 and that was a sobering experience! It took a couple of weeks for me to remind myself that I am not an old doddering lady, just a 60 year old who still doesn’t act her age… great writing!
I have not yet admitted to being an adult. I put on a facade of responsibility at work and with my friends. I stick out my tongue when I pay bills and I refuse to go to bed for any reason other than I want to. I may admit when I’m 90, but don’t hold your breath.
If being an adult means appreciating the smiths a bit more, this growing up isn’t so bad after all!
It hit me when my Mom had a stroke. I was 46. She was gone 2 months later. I was no longer anyone’s little girl. By the time I reached 50, I was finally comfortable with myself and being an adult who didn’t have to answer to anyone but me. Now I love it.
I was convinced at age 7 that I was going to attend clown college and become the top clown in the Ringling Bros. circus! Odd choice seeing as I am a serious and introverted person, and as it turns out I chose a different career path. As for adulthood, I choose to take it or leave it depending on the day. Hope you find that Ironman costume! 🙂
Suzie I found your blog by way of “The Modern Philosopher” blog. l liked your post and I’m not sure I’m an adult in the accepted sense of the word, but like all adults I have responsibilities that must be met as mature people must. I think it best to keep part of that childlike attitude, if only to remind us why we are here in the first place—to experience life with childlike wonder.
I have one small request for you, Suzie.
Note this comment. Then come back to me when you hit 40 years of age. Let me know if your sentiments have changed. Cheers.
Any reason why?
I have my reasons.
It would be helpful to know?
It’s one of those things that’s better experienced, than explained– or maybe it’s “come closer to where I am, and let me know what you see.”
I had thoughts not unlike yours here once upon a time– I really did. There’s just something about the combination of life experiences I had since that time that I feel differently about adulthood, now. I’m not sure exactly what was the pivotal point. And how could I hope to explain? I have no idea how much you’re reading at my own blog, although you’re still welcome anytime. So all I have left is “Wait some time, at most until you hit 40, but not necessarily then. Maybe it will be much sooner, maybe it will be a little bit later. But I think you might change your mind… yet, it will take some passage of time– not right now– for such a change in perspective to come to pass.”
That’s why I like the process of blogging because I can write what about what I know in the moment
When I went to Uni and had a bout of flu, and for the first time was left suffering alone in my room without a kind Mum to fuss me, it was a horrible realisation of how lonely being an adult can be. My first year at Uni was a massive wake up call – one I really struggled to adjust to.
When I was growing up I wanted to be a Fireman.
When I was grown up, my first partner was a Fireman. I think that’s when I knew I was an adult. 🙂
Just wait until you have theoretical adults working for you whose mothers are younger than you are. The first time that happened to me with one of my Soldiers, I crawled into bed for a week with the covers over my head (figuratively speaking).
And it took me until I was 35 to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up (a Physician Assistant) but now I’ve changed my mind again and am back to wanting to be Wonder Woman instead.
Suzie, I’m older than you and although I’ve learned to survive in the adult world I don’t feel like an adult either. In fact, I often wonder what happened to people my age who seem more grown up. Congrats on your appreciation for The Smiths, although that hardly qualifies one as an adult. Yes, thanks to the internet I’m pretty sure you can get that Iron Man costume. In fact, I believe that Tony Stark was an “adult” when he got his Iron Man costume.
I still go to work every day feeling like I’m Tom Hanks in Big and I’m fooling everyone into thinking I’m a grown up.
Great post! Ok truth be told I realized I was an adult when my son was little and at some point I think he was either 7 or 8 years old at the time and he did something that got me upset so I fussed at him. Then I said something that was just like my father said and at that point I realized I had become my father LOL so in mid sentence I told him to go to his room in a lower voice than the one I fussed at. He looked puzzled as if he so me go from the Hulk to David Banner in a second. I said it again just go to your room. Needless to say I was depressed the rest of the day. I had finally become one of them…an adult. LOL