Reasons Being a Grown-Up is Fun

Lately, JC has been telling me how life is going to be when he is a grown-up.

“Mom, my kids are going to go to bed whenever they want. So probably 11:34 every night. And I will have much more screen time. I will have screen time whenever I want, right? Because that’s what being a grown-up is.”

I always pat his head and tell him not to worry about being a grown-up quite yet. After all, childhood is magical, right? Of course it is–when you’re an adult looking back on it. When  you’re an almost 6-year-old boy, it looks an awful lot like a bunch of adults telling you what to do. We have always tried to include JC in decisions, but there are obviously things he doesn’t get a say in. Like that 11:34 bed time.

Bedtimes are important.


I can’t explain to him why adulthood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Money worries, laundry, jobs, colleagues, what to make for dinner–there’s a lot of tedious parts of being a  grown-up.

But then I stopped thinking about all the tiresome aspects and started looking at it from his point of view. And I have to be honest–sometimes, being a grown-up can be pretty fun.

When you’re a grown-up, you get to choose what you want to eat. Sure, we should all eat healthy but on the days when you just want a giant milkshake and a chili dog, you can have it. And you have keys to a car that allows you to procure it.

You can eat the middle out of the brownie tray if you want. Or, as I’m likely to do, the middle of the lasagna. Or all of the yummy cheesy chex out of the bag of chex mix.

You get to pick the music you listen to in the car. And you always get to sit in the front seat.

You can call in sick to work. You can’t call in sick to school unless your parents let you. I was lucky–I had cool parents who let me stay home from school on my birthday and every now and then for special occasions. Of course, this was before hardcore attendance rules.

You can wear as much make-up as you want without anyone making you wash it off before you leave the house.

You get to stay up late and watch TV. In bed. Watching TV in bed is the best. I dreamed of doing it when I was a kid–we had a staunch no-televisions-in-the-bedroom-rule at my house–and as an adult it is as cool as I thought it would be.

Of course, when you’re an adult you understand that all these choices have consequences. When you stay up late, you’re tired the next day. When you wear too much makeup, you might get some funny looks (I say ignore them and rock that sparkly blue eyeshadow). The chili dog will inevitably come back to bite you, and you can only call in sick to work so many times before you no longer have a job to call in to.
The secret to adulthood? You’re so busy being an adult that you don’t get to do all that fun stuff. But every now, the stars align. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Dawson’s Creek in bed with a giant milkshake and the middle of a lasagna.

What’s your favorite part of being a grown up?

 

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Classes Every Parent Should Take

I learned a lot in college.

For example, I can recite a great deal of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in old English. I conjugate verbs in Latin when I can’t sleep. And I always get all the questions correct on Jeopardy when the topic is Shakespeare.

In short, I learned very little that is of any use to me in my current life as a mother to an inquisitive, science-minded little boy.

I’m sure than one day my English degree will be handy when it comes to teaching my son. But right now, I’m wishing I’d been able to take classes like these:

Common Sense 101 (also known as How to Answer Questions about the Universe that you Probably Learned in 3rd Grade but Forgot by the Time you were 30): JC has been informing people how a steam engine runs since he was two or so. I thought it was cute and quirky. A few months ago, he asked me how ice was made. I told him that when water gets cold, it freezes. And frozen water is ice. This answer was not good enough him. After a long talk with his father, Little Man informed me that water is made of molecules, and when molecules slow down, they freeze. When they speed up, water boils. He then applied this information to his prior knowledge of steam combustion engines. And left me scratching my head.

Then came the question, “Mom, what is the difference between batteries and electricity? And where does electricity come from?”

Um…Georgia Power Company?

It is unnerving to feel like you can’t answer questions posed to you by someone who just learned to pedal a tricycle. I spend a lot of my downtime on google, researching his questions.

Budgeting: I took a personal finance class in college. I learned to balance a check book. What I didn’t learn was how to be prepared for the sudden onslaught of $20 Thomas the Train toys and the damage they would do to a household budget. Or how to coupon so that I could made space in my grocery budget to buy organic food so that my kid doesn’t grow up to have three arms.

Public Relations: It would be useful to know how to smooth over a random person at the grocery store after my kid looks at her critically and says, “My daddy owns gyms. You could go there and get skinny!” Classes related to this subject matter would be “Tact” and “Conversational Appropriateness” (ie, teaching your child that the entire population of the Lowes restroom doesn’t need to know he has a small tushie and, according to him, Mommy has a huge one).

Methods of Withstanding Torment: Topics would include “Meditation for Mental Removal during Prolonged Viewings of Elmo’s World”, “Differentiating Between Manipulative and Actual Need Crying”, and “Repetitive Reading of the Same Bedtime Story”.

Coping with Sleep Deprivation: Sure, I was sleep deprived when I was in college. But I was only responsible for my own life and the life of my houseplant. I really could have done with a formula that would help me figure out the ratio of caffeine consumption needed per lost hour of sleep for optimal job performance.

I will say that there were some classes in my collegiate education that have offered me some help in parenting–and those were my theater classes. Yes, the very classes my father thought I was crazy for taking have been the only ones that have offered me “real life” preparation: I use improvisation skills on a daily basis, as well as tricks like being able to keep a straight face.

Motherhood has been its own crash course in all of these topics, but it would have been handy to know some of the answers going in. I guess that’s why, by the third or fourth kid, parents are more relaxed.

But I’m still on kid #1, so until that changes (if it ever does!) I’ll just get back to googling where electricity comes from.

What Books Defined Your Childhood?

When I was young, I always had my nose in a book. And if it wasn’t in a book, I was holed up in a corner with my notebook and a pen, scribbling my latest missive. I was a serious Word Nerd–so much so that my birthday presents from my friends were generally piles of blank paper and pens. And I loved it.

And I was lucky that I had parents that supported my bookworm tendencies. I would leave the library each week with a bulging bag. The deal in my house was that when I finished a book, I got to get another one.

I read through what most young girls do–the Ramona series from Beverly Cleary, Anne of Green Gables and all the subsequent books in that series, Judy Blume, Madeleine l’Engle–all the good stuff. But the books that took up the most space on my bookshelf were Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-sitters Club series.

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I had an epic collection of them. I read them over and over. I knew most of them by heart. I felt like the characters in them were my friends, and I had my first book-to-movie heartbreak when a Baby-sitters Club movie came out and what appeared on the screen just wasn’t up to snuff with the written word.

I know this sounds super cheesy, but I learned from them: when my Dad was diagnosed with diabetes, I knew all about the disease because one of the main characters had it. The same goes for when I contracted mono–one of the characters had gone through it. I learned legitimate childcare techniques from the books–I built a kid-kit to use with the little ones I watched at Girl Scout gatherings. It was a huge hit. I got all my ideas about romance from them–and back then, they were very innocent ideas. There was no vampire almost-sex or 50 shades of anything–just slow dances at boy/girl parties and holding hands at the mall. And it was enough to make little 10-year-old me swoon.

But little girls grow up, and I stopped reading them and moved on to other books. A couple of years ago, I gave my entire collection to another budding tween-aged girl I knew. It was very much unlike me to get rid of books, but I’d just had a baby and space was at a premium.

I’ve regretted it ever since.

Recently I’ve had an itch to go back and re-read the books that had such an impact on my younger self. Maybe because I feel the world going to pieces and I want to escape to a less complicated time. Or maybe because I’ve been trying to write more and am looking for inspiration. Whatever the reason, I went online with trepidation to see if I could even find any of the paperbacks that stopped being printed in the early 90’s.

I was in luck. Not only did I discover people selling them by the dozens on eBay, half.com and Amazon for a steal, but I discovered that the author wrote a handful more after I stopped reading. So not only can I go back and visit my old friends, I can read new stories.

My husband thought I was a little crazy when my first package arrived and I squealed and immediately buried myself in a book written for a 12-year-old. But when I explained to him what they did for my world, and that I was going to start to collect them again for my future library (you know, the one that I’m sure will look just like the one in Beauty and the Beast) he just chuckled and left me to my reading. I think he’s relieved my new collection is going to be cheap.

What book defined your childhood? Do you still have it? I’d love to hear about them. If you need me, I’ll be baby-sitting with Kristy, Claudia and Mary Anne.