Oct 25, 2010

Is Being a Grown-up Fun?

I think we no longer make being grown up something young people look forward to.

We (as a society) let our children’s activities dictate how our free time is spent, we let our teenagers epitomize cool, we think a body in it’s young twenties is ideal and we spend hours recapturing toys we had as a child or forwarding lists confirming we grew up in the 70s/80s when in fact our birthdates provide adequate evidence for which decades we lived through just fine. There’s an entire industry of clothing companies thriving on shirts with Oscar the Grouch/Smurfs/Transformers/Rainbow Bright on them for adults.

I am guilty of all of these things. I’ve shopped in the junior’s department, held my ideal body as the one that fits my prom dress, let my children’s activities run my day, coveted those Hello Kitty diamond earrings and watched every I heart the 80s show on VH1. That novelty Snoopy Joe Cool t-shirt has become daily wear for a lot of us. It really has me thinking. Can you picture your grandmother in a t-shirt with Snoopy on it? How about Michelle Obama? There’s a certain amount of sophistication lacking when constantly reminiscing and simultaneously worshiping youth.

I’ve been wondering if the grown up culture is shrinking and our cultural intellect with it. Are we loosing some of the rights of passage or mores I expected to embrace and instead increasingly believing being old stinks? Ok so, I’m not exactly sure what those “grown up” things are. As a child I was sure they’d have something to do with the nightly news, coffee, voting, cigarettes and slinky dresses. Now that I’m in my thirties, those things don’t seem as fun as I thought they’d be, nor do you need to be a grown up to do them.

So I’m still trying to define what “grown-up” things are and aren’t for both myself and my daughter who cornered me on the subject by asking me if being a grown up is fun. Having not really been ready for such a question, like all questions children have, I quickly replied “Yes! You get to vote and drive, get married, push important buttons, have a job, drink wine, spend money, stay up late and do whatever you want with your life AND be the boss of your kids.” But it haunted me that my list wasn’t longer or better or perhaps more that she had asked at all. Did I not appear to be enjoying adulthood?

I wished I had a better answer and after much thought this is what I know. Being a grown up is fun because it means having informed ideas, conversations and interactions that only people who have experienced life can have even if those conversations revolve around novel or childish things. It means having a mature palate and an appetite for things based on experience. It’s having character, convictions, talents and relationships that are solid and strong because they’ve formed slowly over a long time.

This isn't exactly the Justin Bieber squashing answer that makes forty the new seventeen, but having fun being a grown up includes not having to know who Justin Bieber is.

Photo stolen from: www.squareamerica.com


Art said...

An excellent and articulate post, Jenny. I'm reminded of watching Scorsese's Rolling Stones documentary Shine A Light and thinking the coolest part about it was that the Stones seem to be saying, by merely putting it out at this late date, "Yeah, we're old and ugly. Deal with it."

I'm starting to get gray hair now. Do I have any interest in getting rid of it? Are you kidding me? I earned those motherfuckers.

Jenny said...

Agreed, I don't think I'll ever dye my gray hairs either.

And while it is fun to taste mint chip ice cream for the first time it is satisfying to come back to it having tasted all thirty one flavors knowing that it is your favorite

Art said...

I forgot to mention how much I like the line 'Ok so, I’m not exactly sure what those “grown up” things are. As a child I was sure they’d have something to do with the nightly news, coffee, voting, cigarettes and slinky dresses.' (to which I would add 'drinking cheap beer and wearing too much cologne,' but your experience may have varied).

You're quite the writer, Jen. I have to admit I'm a little jealous.

Jenny said...

I agonized over what to put in that line. I think at one point booze was in there, but cheap beer and too much cologne, yes that would've been perfect.

Thank you Art, coming from you, that means a great deal.

Art said...

You're very welcome.

陳羽玲 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................