Everybody knows what it means to be an “adult.” Linguistically speaking, it’s the period of life that follows “juvenile” and simply means “fully developed and mature,” according to Merriam-Webster.
It’s listed in the dictionary as an adjective (a descriptive word for those of you not fond of grammar) but is commonly used as a noun (person, place or thing) in sentence structure.
But recently, “adult” has taken on a new persona — especially with the younger generations — as a verb. But not just as any verb, one with negative connotations. And it’s driving me crazy.
“I don’t want to ‘adult’ today, please don’t make me ‘adult.’”
This phrase is generally used when faced with unpleasant but necessary tasks such as going to work, paying bills, or having to deal with people you’d just as soon avoid.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s been plenty of times where I would rather hide in a blanket fort with a coloring book and crayons rather than tackle the outside world but, to me anyway, “the wonder of childhood” is highly overrated.
If I could go back in time and do it all over again, I wouldn’t. In fact, I liken the experience to how my dad describes his days in the Navy: “I wouldn’t trade it for a million dollars, but I wouldn’t do it again for five.”
People tend to remember their childhoods as carefree and fun: just some kind of an endless Summer where all you did was ride bikes and eat ice cream and catch fireflies. And hey, I do it too.
As a species, humans have a tendency to gloss over things and cherry pick our memories but let’s be honest here, being a kid kind of … sucks.
First of all, when you’re a child, no one takes your worries seriously.
Sure, from our perspective, kids have no worries at all, right? After all, we provide everything for them, what could they possibly be worried about?
But of course they do, I’m sure I did: homework, drama with friends, making the (insert random sport) team — you name it. I worried about about everything, and my parents did what every other adult in the world does, they dismissed it. After all, those aren’t “real” worries, that’s just childhood stuff. No sweat.
Secondly, as a child, you live under a total dictatorship.
How many of you out there had to eat a certain food that you hated or had an unwavering bedtime no matter your level of alertness? All of us, right? Parenting 101.
As a kid, I wasn’t a picky eater by nature but there were a few things that I didn’t like: fish, coleslaw and mushrooms to name the worst offenders. (I also didn’t like olives, but luckily my mother didn’t either so it was never an issue.)
At my house, like many others, my parents insisted we eat what was served and my brothers and I were not permitted to leave the table until our plates were clean.
You know what? I’m 36-years-old and I still don’t like fish. Or coleslaw. Or mushrooms. (Or olives.)
As far as bedtimes go, it adjusted according to age but ultimately you had someone telling you when to sleep, when to get up, when to eat, when to play, when to talk, when to be quiet, where to go and what to wear.
If that’s not a dictatorship, I don’t know what is.
I do want to be clear that I’m not criticizing parenting — my kids have bedtimes, chores, and yes, they have to eat their dinner — I’m just making the point that no matter how we remember it, from a kid’s perspective, it’s not all fun and games.
As adults we can do as we wish. If I want to go somewhere, I go. If I want a puppy, I can get one. If I want that slice of cheesecake before dinner then dammit, I’m gonna eat it! Why? Because I’m a grown-up and there is literally no one policing this stuff for me anymore.
It’s time to reclaim “adulting” as a good thing. After all, we’ve earned it.