25 August 2017

Why Don't You Grow Up?

I know a lot of adults who wish they could be kids again.

I don't really understand this. I like being an adult. Being an adult is way better than being a kid.

It means I can drive

and vote

and travel unaccompanied

and order Sambuca with my espresso

and go to bed as late as I want.

(I also have to pay taxes and insurance and do jury duty)

For the most part, people take me seriously when I have something to say.

I don't have to ask permission to use the stove or the big cutting knife and I can reach the cookie jar without having to stand on a chair.

No one makes me wear Mary Jane shoes with lace stockings anymore

and I don't have to sit in school all day

(But I do have to work all day)

I don't have to listen to the babysitter anymore. I am the babysitter!

Adulthood brings some weird things your way, too.

Like some of the stuff you loved when you were a kid that, somehow, just doesn't do it for you anymore.

When I was in grade school, I wanted those sneakers that light up when you walk. I begged my parents to buy them for me, but they always got me the canvas ones instead because those were cheaper.  These days they make the light-up sneakers in adult sizes, but I don't think I'd be caught dead in them now.

I was also not allowed to eat sugar cereals like Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Puffs. (My cousins got to eat Cookie Crisp for breakfast, and I was green with envy.)  One time I saved up my money and bought my very own box of Lucky Charms. (My mom had some words for me when she found out about that!)  Then when I went to college, they had Lucky Charms in the cafeteria, so I could eat as much as I wanted -- and I discovered that I didn't like them anymore.  I actually found it gross, not cool, that those chalky marshmallows turn the milk green.

I even discovered that sliding backwards on your belly down carpeted stairs is the time of your life when you are two or even ten, but at the ripe old age of 24, it will jar every bone in your body and make you need to call the chiropractor's office to get the earliest possible appointment next day.

So much for any ideas about childhood or adulthood being idyllic.

Really, that's not as obvious to most people as it should be. Someone else said it a lot better than I could:

Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

That's a little-known saying from a little-known book written by the wisest person in the world -- King Solomon.  He was speaking about the tendency of human nature to compare present realities with a rosy-colored (often largely imaginary) past.  And if he was the wisest person in the world, then chances are good that he knew what he was talking about.

If you could return to a certain time of life, you'd suddenly remember all the things about it that weren't so good at the time.  And of course, you'd be without the wisdom and knowledge you've gained over the years, and you'd still have ahead of you all those mistakes you've made and problems you've been through.  You might even find yourself wishing to be where you are now, the way kids wish they could be grown-ups.  That kind of wishing is useless, demoralizing, and even, as Solomon said, foolish.

If you're a kid, then of course you should enjoy your childhood; but if you're an adult, you should enjoy that, too.  Eat dessert first, if you want... no one can tell you not to!

[Originally published May 2012]

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