Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Living Like A Grown Up
wisewebwoman, who really is a wise woman - I can vouch for that, having admired her sensible, as well as entertaining, posts for a number of years now - set me pondering with her recent post Living Like A Grownup. What does living like a grownup mean? I would hazard a guess that whether one stays in pyjamas for hours, or all day, isn't really very much to do with it, although in my comment I told her that I always get dressed, invariably, every day, unless I'm sick and have to stay in bed. Equally, I always make my bed, comb my hair, feed the dog, take out the rubbish, cook lunch and wipe my feet on the mat coming in after I've been outside. I also stopped wiping my snotty nose on my sleeve long ago. All very boring, predictable, proper. As an adult, I have the freedom to indulge myself - providing I'm not breaking the law of the land - which is what children envy. "You can watch what you want on TV, why can't I? Why do I always have to go to bed when it gets interesting?"
Being free to do what I want doesn't make me a grownup. So what does? I suppose I could leave aside all the most obvious answers like being responsible for your own laundry, doing your duty by your annoying mother-in-law, eating healthy food, letting your best friend weep on your shoulder when her man dumps her for the third time and not saying "I told you so", and never forgetting anybody's birthday.
I used to pontificate about young people being responsible for their own actions, i.e. not getting away with saying "I didn't know I was doing wrong" when they reached fourteen, but I've mellowed; I now let them get to fourteen-and-a-half before I advocate that the penalty for playing loud music, bunking off from school, ignoring the advice of old ladies like me and uttering unintelligible grunts instead of polite replies, is being taken out and shot at dawn.
I once lived in a long and intimate relationship with a man who never even got to fourteen. No crime he ever committed was his own fault, there was always someone else to blame. If he couldn't shift the blame, he staunchly maintained that the crime was no more than a minor misdemeanour, and I shouldn't make a fuss. And his final excuse, to which I really never had an answer, was "I couldn't help myself, it's who I am". Years of patiently explaining the difference between right and wrong got me a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders. He was not a Grown Up.
Since then I've never really thought about what could be called living like a grownup. Is it having the courage of my own convictions? Looking after those in my care? Accepting responsibility for my actions? Children can be kind, so kindness is not always a sign of adulthood. Adults can be very unkind, rough and irresponsible. Wisdom is not given to many. Maturity does not always come with age.
The fact that I can sit here and type these rather futile and quite probably unanswerable questions into my computer and send them off into the web and that there are those of you who read them and perhaps think about them for a moment and come up with your own questions, does that make us grownups?
If only it would stop raining and I could go for a long walk; I'm sure I could come up with an answer.