It’s official. I’m an adult. I am not proud of it, as I don’t necessarily want to be, but I am nonetheless. Sadly, I’ve been suspecting it for sometime, but yesterday it was confirmed for me. Some of you might think I should have known this much earlier; and perhaps I should have figured it out when: I went to college, got my Master’s, got a real job, got married, bought a house, had kids … but no.
Believe it or not, I’ve always been brilliantly in-tune with my imagination, so I was able to ignore adulthood quite easily. In fact, during my first year of teaching, a beautiful veteran teacher of nearly thirty-years became something like a mentor and mother to me at school. After a couple of weeks I invited her over for tea and coffee. From my kitchen table she smiled at me and said, “You look like a little girl playing house.” And from that day on, she has affectionately called me, “little girl.”
So how did it happen then you ask? Well, I’m embarrassed to say, but it all came down to a garage door. My husband had a little fight with ours, and let’s just say the door won, but with major dents to show for it. I, not being much of a dent-fan, avidly supported his suggestion to get a new door; yesterday it was delivered. And here it comes. I love it! It is the prettiest garage door on the block! Today I found myself, out to run our dog just looking back at it and thinking, “Oh how proud and lovely you are.” Yup. That’s it. That is how I know. Because who in their right imagination would ever bother fawning over a garage door. It’s official. I’m an adult.
When I come to think of it honestly, I could see it coming. I’ve been into organization for quite awhile, teenage drivers look like babies to me, I enjoy taking naps, and (on more than one occasion, though I ‘d never admit it) I’ve been called ma’am instead of miss. What happened to miss? I liked miss much better. Thankfully, my students are too lazy to say misses, and still make me feel young with the title of miss. I actually had a student correct his friend when addressing me and said, “Dude, she’s married; it’s supposed to be misses.”
To which I quickly replied, “No! It’s okay. I mean, I’m wearing a wedding ring so it isn’t like I’ll forget that I’m married if you guys call me miss.” Age-related disaster–averted.
Still, I’ve noticed other signs. For example, I hate when teeny-boppers start screaming at the hot guy on the screen, so when we go to the movies I make my husband sit far to the side so we’re completely alone (though the view is much worse from there). I get exited about books and clothes for gifts. I actually enjoy eating granola and vegetables. I buy anti-aging eye-cream! What frustrates me the most is that I do not remember giving myself permission to grow up. I didn’t make the conscious decision and yet, the years sneaked up on me without my consent. It isn’t that I mind getting older, I just don’t want to be too adult-ish about it. Casey Stengel says, “The trick is growing up without growing old.”
Now, I’m going to vindicate myself here. I may have to admit adulthood; but I don’t have to give up childhood completely. My personality hasn’t changed (much), and I still find that I, and those who love me, know I’m a, “little girl” at heart. I love Disney Channel and cartoons. My favorite food is peanut butter on a spoon (with no distractions). I have a grand collection of children’s books (and have way before I actually had children of my own). I wear pink, purple or white Converse sneakers and my favorite jeans have holes and patches. I lay on the floor with my dog as my pillow. I dress up with my daughter for tea parties and tickle-fight my son. For my thirtieth birthday, some of my best friends threw me a pajama party and we watched the movie, “Thirteen Going on Thirty,” because I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, that I am forever trapped in that mentality … to which I say–thank God.
I may be a grown up, but I have stubbornly decided to never actually cross over. I haven’t heard it more beautifully described than when Edna St. Vincent Millay said, “Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age The child is grown, and puts away childish things. Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.” More over, I think childhood is where pretend stays to live. So why not stay? Reach into the old drawer of your favorite parts of being a kid. Pull out the dreams, the games, the snacks, secrets and jokes. Cast off the, “I’m too old for that,” comments and play. You may be an adult; you may even get excited about lame things like garage doors and paint colors, but you don’t have to admit it. I’ll never tell, and if you want to be a kid … I’m right there with you, ready and willing to pretend.