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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Five Things I Thought as a Kid. . .and was SO WRONG About!

I have an interesting age range of children.  From almost 19 down to newly 8.  Equal numbers of boys and girls, too. . .so I have a little bit of everything at the moment: Young adults just heading into the world down to a little guy who plans to live with me forever 'n ever 'n ever. 

It gives an interesting perspective.

On the one hand, my younger kids are still so disconnected with what "being grown up" really entails that they endlessly make "when I'm grown up, I'm gonna. . ." statements that leave my husband and me rolling our eyes and giggling uncontrollably at the absurdity of it all.

On the other hand, my older ones are starting to realize a few hard truths about adulthood and, to be frank, they're not entirely appreciative of a lot of it.  Like the fact that when you're "on your own," at 18, you generally cannot afford the comfort, style, and amenities your parents offered you.  And the fact that electricity, water, garbage collection and various forms of insurance don't just rain from the sky in charming clouds of free-ness.

And all this got me to thinking about what I thought "being grown up" would look like way back when in the late 1900's.  Here's a peek:

1)      Being Grown Up meant you could do whatever you want, whenever you want
The responsibilities of being a wife, mother, and homeowner aside (I could have chosen not to take these routes, after all!), it never dawned on me that so much of life was spent just keeping yourself alive.  I never really thought about all the things that needed paying for. . .shelter, utilities, insurance, car maintenance, food, clothing, etc.  I didn't realize that maintaining your existence meant that you'd spend most of your waking hours preparing for, traveling to, doing, traveling home from, and winding down because of, a JOB.  Add in a spouse, or, God forbid, some kiddos, and any fleeting notions of copious amounts of time spent in leisure are long gone.
2)       Being Grown Up meant you could spend your money any way you want to
Hot on the tails of number 1, I remember hearing tales of how much people were making (shoot, minimum wage back then seemed like a bloomin' fortune!), and assumed that it was all discretionary income. I didn't know about FICA or Social Security or Income Tax. I didn't factor in the cost of everything from a place to live down to toothpaste. I just assumed life would be one big shopping trip and any thing I didn't want to do could easily be funded by my abundant overflow.
3)       Being Grown Up meant no bedtimes or curfews
Seeing as I didn't factor in a job or any other commitments, it stands to reason that I just assumed I would be able to stay up as late as I wanted, each and every night.  Heck, I was even planning to stay up to watch Love Boat AND Fantasy Island every Saturday night.  Right on up to 11:00 pm!! How's that for reckless?

4)       Being Grown Up meant I would always know what to do, in every situation
Of all the things that I was wrong about, this one probably surprised me most.  Despite being an honor student, who should have had a couple of brain cells to rub together, it never, ever, EVER entered my head that adults would lack knowledge or ever feel unprepared or insecure.  Looking back on the adults in my world when I was a child, I can see how each person had particular strengths and knowledge and skills that the rest of the family drew on.  I guess I must have seen those adults as a collective rather than individuals with limitations.  Silly, huh?  I had no idea how little I would know as an adult.  It shocks me even still.
5)       Being Grown Up meant you never struggle with self-worth
This is the one that made me saddest.  I had a hard childhood in many ways, and I didn't have a great sense of inherent value as a result.  I'm not quite sure how I thought the transition from that abysmal place to one of self-assured confidence would occur, but I was certain (desperately hopeful??) that it would.  I mean, with all that leisure time, money, late night TV and infinite skill sets, how could you not be pretty dang pleased to live in your own skin?  Shame that one didn't turn out to be true!
So what about you?  What did you think Being Grown Up would look like?

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