When I was four, I had a conversation with my best friend’s brother, who was a few years older than us. I don’t remember how it started, but I do remember that he was bragging about all the cool things older kids could do.
My response to this was to say, “But you can’t shoot a cannon even if you wanted to, huh?” He had no comeback.
In his defense, if someone were to say the same thing to me today, I would also be at a loss for words. For some reason, to my four-year-old self, the ability to shoot a cannon was the mark of adulthood. When you’re responsible enough to man a heavy piece of war machinery, you’re responsible enough to be a grownup.
My friends and I whine about becoming grownups a lot. There’s just so much stuff you have to do and none of it involves cannons.
Boring Stuff Grownups Have to Do
– Pay bills
– Buy things like “whole-wheat bread”, “sensible work clothes”, and “nail polish that isn’t glittery”
– Get a job
– Change the oil in their cars
– Wait in lines
– Tuck in their shirts
See? Not one piece of field artillery in that list! I don’t want to sound too Peter Pan here, but being a grownup doesn’t sound that great. Even worse, it’s kind of ambiguous. When do you become an adult? Am I there yet?
When I was in first grade, I spent a lot of time looking at the taller people around me in grades two through six, thinking they really had a handle on things. Here I am, on the verge of graduating 16th grade, and I still feel like the first grader who watched sadly as a boy with a red rattail wiped his boogers on her chicken nuggets. I don’t have life down to a science. It’s a miracle I even remember to brush my hair in the morning.
Legally, I became an adult at 18, but that only meant I could play the lotto and be tried as an adult in court of law. I spent a surprising amount of time dancing around to “I’m Too Sexy” in my underwear, for god’s sake. It certainly didn’t happen on my 21st birthday, which I also spent dancing to “I’m Too Sexy”, this time while wearing pants.
In an ideal world, someone would throw you a “Now You’re A Grownup!” party so you’d have at least a little determination.
Things I Would Have Liked at My “Now You’re a Grownup!” Party
– A large banner saying something like, “Congratulations! You’ve successfully attained post-pubescence and we’ll all treat you like a real person now!” (I would also have accepted a smaller banner with a variation of that.)
– A buffet of grownup food, which we would of course refer to as “hors d’oeuvres” and not “appetizers”. We definitely wouldn’t call them “snackiepoos”, because that would render the whole affair completely pointless. Also, hopefully there would be pie.
– A card with a message making it really, really clear that this party was being thrown specifically to make me aware of my new status as an adult, contributing member of society.
– Grownup gifts, like an absurdly expensive pen I’d probably lose right away, or a guide to dyeing your hair a nice, employable shade.
Honestly, I don’t even need a party or a shady initiation ceremony. I’d be perfectly okay with taking an aptitude test, and afterwards having a man in an official-looking suit pull me aside and hand me a piece of paper stamped OFFICIAL GROWNUP. I need some kind of clear sign like passing a standardized test because so far I’ve had to infer it from clues.
Hints that I May, in Fact, Be a Grownup
– People sell me alcohol. I can drive motorized vehicles. I’ve been allowed access to both a casino and a strip club and was not thrown out of either one (which is too bad really, because they were both tremendously awkward experiences). I can hardly believe it, but society thinks I am adult enough to gamble, consume liquor, operate heavy equipment, and look at topless women. (Not all at the same time.) (Mostly.)
– Kids I grew up with are getting married and spawning their own kids. Since their parents aren’t mad at them, I guess it means it’s OK now.
– I pay taxes. Not the Monopoly kind, either, but actual, real taxes. I no longer keep my money in a plastic bank shaped like a unicorn with a rainbow mane, but in a much larger bank shaped like a building. I have a PIN number! Can you imagine?!
– I make dentist appointments! I think about things like the thread-count of my sheets and where to find the best deal on toilet paper! I can’t even remember the last time I rented a Care Bear movie!
Slowly, inexorably, I appear to have become an adult and no one told me. It’s not all bad, though.
Awesome Things Grownups Can Do (That They Totally Take for Granted)
– I ate Cap’n Crunch for dinner tonight because I wanted to, that’s why. I could eat Cap’n Crunch for dinner for the rest of my life and no one could stop me. (Although they probably should. Please don’t let me do that.) The point is, YOU GET TO MAKE THE RULES WHEN YOU’RE A GROWNUP.
– It’s 2 a.m. and I am still awake. I wish I was asleep because I have work in the morning, but for someone whose bedtime was 8:30 until she was in high school, this is a pretty big deal. YOU DECIDE ON BEDTIME WHEN YOU’RE A GROWNUP.
– If I wanted a puppy, I could just get in my car and go buy one. (Obviously not right now, because it’s 2 a.m., but you understand.) YOU CAN GET YOUR OWN PUPPIES WHEN YOU’RE A GROWNUP.
– Speaking of cars, if you have a license and access to a vehicle, you could drive away right now. You could drive away and never look back because YOU ARE A GROWNUP AND YOU ARE THE DECIDER.