No one ever said when they grew up they wanted to pay taxes, rent and utilities, do laundry, wash dishes, go grocery shopping.
No one mentioned these things when we were 5 or even 10 years old. They asked what we wanted to be when we grew up and we said artists, designers, musicians, professional athletes, nurses, teachers, scientists, firemen, architects, doctors, pilots, astronauts, engineers… oftentimes something other than what our parents did. We wanted to travel, have fun, do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted and naïvely thought that if we picked a career other than our parents we’d have lives where we didn’t have to pay taxes and such, do laundry, wash dishes buy groceries or cook for ourselves.
We were fooled, conned, snookered, tricked, even felt lied to, cheated, duped, bamboozled, scammed, double-crossed, screwed.
The question wasn’t “What do you want to do when you grow up?” So we assumed we wouldn’t have to pay taxes, or do laundry, mow the lawn, take out the garbage. Someone else would do that for us while we doctored, and played sports, designed things, built things, spent our days playing music and painting, focused on being Einstein, became famous for curing all types of diseases…Being a grown up was supposed to be magic.
Magic has a price: taxes, bills, debts, rent, garbage, laundry, cleaning, cooking…
In recent years, there have been news items on the subject of ’growing up’ — only the current terminology is ’adulting’. When did the word ’adult’ become a verb? What was wrong with the phrase ’growing up’? Cliché? Antiquated? So last century? Are people actually saying “Be an adult!“ instead of “Oh grow up!”? Certainly no one refers to the Peter Pan Syndrome anymore, though that referred originally only to males and ‘adulting’ applies to both sexes (whichever one you choose to be). But I digress…
Some articles cite the trend of teens and even 20-somethings “putting off” ‘adulting’ activities such as summer jobs, driving, drinking, getting married, getting their own place to live. Other articles are written by the young generations blaming parents, teachers and other adults for not teaching them how to manage or earn money, cook for themselves, do laundry, etc.
Did you fail math every year in school, particularly when there were word problems dealing with money: “If you have 25 cents and a piece of candy costs 5 cents, how many pieces of candy can you buy?” That was finance class at its very basic level, including money management, budgeting and financial planning. Did you skip math class every day and every year from first grade on up? Or is it just that you didn’t bother paying attention and learning the lessons? Deductive reasoning, time management, communication, analytical skills and logic were also taught throughout the school years if you were paying attention. The blame is on you for not being responsible enough to learn your lessons. Period.
Did you not notice that food did not miraculously appear in the fridge or pantry unless someone went to the grocery store, bought it and then brought it home? Dinner also did not miraculously appear without someone prepping and cooking. Granted, there are now services to deliver groceries, but you still need to select the items, put them in a virtual cart and pay for them. Were you not paying attention growing up? Could you not learn through the process of observation? Did you have no curiosity or were you just lazy? Was Home Ec offered at school and you elected not to take it? Not to mention adult ed classes after high school/college?
At our house my sibs and I were making our own breakfast while still in grammar school (both parents worked). By junior high (middle school) we were additionally preparing our own lunches since we didn’t get any allowance to buy lunch nor would our parents give us money to buy lunch. If we wanted to buy lunch (or a snack) we needed to earn our own money to spend.
Do you think your parents and other adults had formal training in life lessons? No. They learned through observation and practice. They sought knowledge from others who knew these things and made the effort to learn. Every generation has done this.
There are plenty of things that my parents or teachers never specifically taught me, like riding a bike. I bartered with my friend across the street. I’d teach her how to roller skate if she taught me how to ride a bike (2-wheeler). Done deal. There were no classes in any school on “How to Ride a Bike”. I never blamed my parents or teachers for not teaching me this skill. As it so happens, neither of my parents knew how to ride a bike (having grown up in a city). Still, I didn’t lay blame on others. That’s part of being an adult. And I was 7 years old at the time.
Becoming an adult is a process that starts in childhood. While no one expects a three-year-old to cook for themselves, they do expect them to learn to pick up their toys and put them away. In grammar school your responsibility is to attend school and learn your lessons, dress yourselves and tuck yourself into bed. Every year the responsibilities and lessons increase as you begin to put everything learned at school, at home, at play time to use as you get older and learn to take care of yourself on your way to your adult years. Do you expect your parents to still give you a bath when you’re 25? (eewwww)
Which brings me to the recent news story of the 30-year-old who had no job, wasn’t looking for a job and refused to move out of his parents’ house after numerous requests which included some financial assistance. He didn’t pay them rent, do any chores and was disrespectful to them. The parents sued him and went to court to have him evicted. His defense was that his parents had a perfectly good house and could financially support him therefore he saw no reason for him to move out, pay rent somewhere else and do for himself or get a paying job.
This was not a case of ‘putting off adulting’ as he had lived and worked independently prior to moving back in with his parents 8 years prior and was a deadbeat dad. This is the ultimate case of refusing to be an adult. His parents should have just packed up his things, thrown them out of their house and changed the locks — as you would do for any rude guest who overstayed his welcome.
Yes, going out into the world alone after all your school years can be daunting. Finding a job, keeping a job, getting or sharing a place other than your parents’ house. The loss or change of familiarity. Being an adult can be hard at times. So can being a child. There will always be mistakes, a bad choice made. It happens to everyone. Adults as well as children sometimes stumble along their way. Every generation has gone through the same anxieties and fears and some things you just have to learn for yourself. We make mistakes and learn from them. Every day. Every year.
The payoff of adulthood, the magic, is that you develop a healthy dose of self-confidence, self-esteem, pride and self-respect in doing for yourself. Choosing how and where to live, making your own travel and vacation plans, not having to eat foods you don’t like, making your own curfews, deciding for yourself what is important to and in your life.
It’s not enough to be ‘woke’ or worry about issues surrounding taxes or the environment, the job market, world issues, gun control, healthcare, violence, discrimination, racism, freedom, democracy, changing laws if all you do is thumb tweets and whine. Life is not a spectator sport. Only adults get to vote, have the ability to enact change. Your candidate may not always win, you may disagree with decisions on issues, but adult voices and actions shape all the decisions for themselves and for all the children whose voices aren’t heard.
Oh, grow up. Hard as it was, even Christopher Robin Milne grew up.
Maybe if you spent less time watching YouTube videos, downloading music and apps, playing video games and gossiping on social media you would have learned to use your brains.