Monday, 11 April 2011

All Grown Up?

What does being a grown up actually mean and how do you know you’ve arrived? Does it happen when you have your first child, get married, get a house? Well two out of three for me, and I still don’t think I'm there yet.

There is this kind of no mans land between adolescence and grownup-dom where you can get away with stuff because you are considered too young to know any better, even though you are legally an adult who can drink as much as you like without having to surreptitiously ask some questionable bloke to buy it, get into clubs without having to look a certain way in the queue (knowing you won’t have to use that dodgy fake ID made with the college laminator is a relief beyond measure) and has the power to vote. All with varying degrees of importance (voting is obviously at the top of MY list). But even being able to do these things does not qualify you as a grown up, for that you have to actually be, grown up. 

I still feel a bit wrong sitting at the grown ups table at family gatherings and parties. Why aren’t I sitting over there with the kids eating chicken nuggets, and hang on a minute, where’s MY goody bag?

I really don’t think I’m qualified to be a grown up yet. I still have absolutely zero ability to drink responsibly, and often insist on staying up half the night, although now without the luxury of sleeping as late as I want in the morning, and frankly I no longer look fresh faced and camera ready after a bottle of wine and 2 hours sleep. I keep looking in the mirror and thinking “Oh look it’s my mum. Oh fuck, no that’s ME!”

I confess to freaking out after filling out my eldest sons infant school application recently. I had one of my fake grown up moments, look at me, being the responsible parent, getting this in early. What, that’s it? Don’t I need to get my mum to sign this or something? It took all my willpower not to actually ring my mum and get her to check it for me.

I do have moments of maturity. There are some things that make me feel fully initiated into grown up land, like driving someone else's car (knowing I’m covered by my own, fully comprehensive with full no claims discount, insurance), writing cheques, being called madam and staying up past 11 o’clock on a school night. I love that, I feel like a 5 year old wearing make up for the first time (look at my sparkly toenails, aren’t they sophisticated?) But there are other situations in which I just want to scream "Don't blame me, I’m only young, I don't know anything!" But I am worried I am fast approaching the age where I just have to stand up and be a man. Or a woman. OK ha ha, can’t make my mind up, very mature.

You always hear elderly people saying “Ooh, I still feel 21 inside!” and I never really knew what they were on about. But I now realise this is not a symptom of senility (I hope not anyway) but a simple fact of life. Maybe none of us ever get past feeling 21. 

I think there should be a recognised level between legal adult age and fully fledged grown up. A kind of P-plate of the adult world if you will. Where we have all the rights and responsibilities of an adult but we’re still allowed to fuck up occasionally and get away with it. Then we should be tested on our knowledge of gardening, clock up a certain number of hours watching Midsommer Murder and show evidence of more than 20 percent grey hair coverage before we’re launched back into the world as a real grown up.

They say that 30 is the new 20 and 40 is the new 30, so technically that means I’m still in my early 20’s and therefore understandably immature and can be excused for irresponsible behaviour. And I have a full ten years at least before I have to start liking Midsommer Murder.


  1. I got on the bus for half aged 27, and challenged by a bouncer and thrown out of a pub at age 31 for looking under-age! Those were the days! I was very indignant! These days, I'm always a little sad that the supermarket check-out operative doesn't ask me for ID when I buy the bloke his beer, but then I will be forty next year!

    I forget I am the age I am, and can't believe that kids born in the nineties are now in their teens (I started my first proper job in 1990)!

    I guess age is just a state of mind. For women, the body-clock is very real if you feel that having kids is something you want to do, otherwise age doesn't really matter to me. I know plenty of "ancient" 60 year-olds, and some really youthful 80 year-olds, so lifestyle plays a big part too.

    As for me, some days I'm sure I'm not old enough to be responsible for two small kids (I feel like I'm baby-sitting for someone else!), whilst other days I just want to check into the nearest Rest Home and get some (rest, that is!).

  2. LOL, yeah I have those rest home days too. And I feel your pain about asking for ID, I'm always indignant when they don't ask me! I'm always poised and ready for the moment when I can flash my drivers license, happily answering questions from the spotty youth on how I look so young: well I smoke, spent the best part of my youth burning to a crisp in the Mediterranean sun (while smoking), I have 2 small kids, drink lots of wine... but of course you also need to eat healthily, get lots of exercise and drink lots of water... ;-)