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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Image 1 Credit: Imgur