Looking around at my life these days, I have to say they aren’t a ton of perks to be seen about the whole being a grown-up business. The other day, I heard someone ask, “Remember when you couldn’t wait to grow up? Well, how’s that working out for ya?” Yeah. It’s not all I thought it would be either. That’s for sure.
But today, I realized a couple of things about being an adult that aren’t too shabby. One is that the once very long list of “People-Who-Can-Tell-You-What-To-Do” gets shorter all the time. For example, this morning it occurred to me that I can snap my gum in the car if I want without being reprimanded. If I should decide to not eat my vegetables at dinner, well I don’t have to sit at the dinner table until I do. If I decide to stay up and watch television until my eyes bleed and my brain hurts? Nobody says a peep about it (although, I do a fair amount of lecturing my own bad self the next day while pacing between eye drops and aspirin).
Now, granted there are certain behaviors and actions to keep under wraps, or people might frown… but generally speaking, this business of being a grown-up is a mighty nifty self-governing job. I do sort of like the fact, too that I finally get to smile with a look in my eye that says, “You’re not the boss of me” and get away with it. Bet a buck that if I showed up on the elementary school playground and ran with scissors in my hands and my eyes crossed – even the teachers (who I do still hold in high esteem as authority figures) wouldn’t lecture me anymore about safety issues or the risk of sticking eyeballs (they might, however call the authorities to have me removed from the premises – but that’s another matter altogether).
Despite being darn happy about the “People-Who-Can-Tell-You-What-To-Do” list being shorter and being the real boss of me, it is kind of nice to know that there are still rules and regulations in place to keep me from becoming a complete delinquent in my old age. It’s amazing how traffic laws and bank fees will keep a person in line.
Despite all of the unpleasant bits about being an adult, there is some joy in knowing that with age come certain freedoms that youth can only dream (impatiently) about. Take today, for instance, at around lunchtime I realized I had not yet brushed my teeth, washed my breakfast dishes or changed out of my pjs (cute though they may be, all soft green and beige camouflage with the word “Fatigued” stenciled on them). At first, I was appalled at my lack of judgment and complete disregard for the household rules. For two decades I have logged thousands of hours reminding the inhabitants of my home that morning dishes have to be rinsed and placed in the dishwasher after eating. Then, with stern looks and downcast eyes (and they wonder where wrinkles come from) I point to the bathroom making sure that tusks of all sizes get brushed and flossed. Yet, here I was breaking some strict laws I’d laid down as Sheriff years before and I was upset … until I reminded myself that I was the grownup here and there were some fabulously good reasons I didn’t manage to get to these tasks until after high-noon. Bwah-ha-ha!! <evil laugh, with head thrown back to the skies for emphasis> Clearly, the power has gone to my head and is terribly intoxicating. I know, I know: easily amused.
I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me before, this giddy pleasure of being a grown-up. Maybe it skipped your notice, too? It could be that the towering stack of bills to be paid weekly hides many of the small joys to be seen. Or, perhaps the pressure of being in charge of a tidy house, clean laundry, meal planning and preparation makes it difficult to bounce around a room in delight. There is the chance that the strong emotions of compassion and empathy for friends and family going through their own rough patches weigh down any lighter, goofier moods that might bubble to the surface. Sigh. So many possibilities, right?
While Peter Pan never wanted to grow up, I think I shall have to modify that sentiment a bit for me. Because honestly, the growing up part hasn’t been so bad, but I wish-I wish there could be a way to never lose sight of how much fun it can be, too. Starting tomorrow, I think I will try to capture at least one pure, unadulterated moment of childlike happiness and appreciation for the benefits of being the ripe ol’ age I am. Sure, the day has the potential to be filled a bunch of unsavory mature tasks, but there’s a brand new box of Captain Crunch cereal in the pantry and I’m going to eat ‘em in my feets-y bear pjs… with a scoop of sensible multi-vitamin/high fiber/omega 3 stuff thrown in, too (the boss of me say I just can’t go overboard on the kid stuff, you know).