When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to grow up.
There were countless rules I had to follow as a child, which did not change when I turned 18.
I still had to abide by a curfew, had to tell people where I was going at all times and when I’d be home. I hated it.
I threatened that I was going to leave as soon as I turned 18 and never look back.
I was going to do what I wanted to and no one could tell me otherwise.
Adulthood was going to be sweet, sweet freedom.
I could stay up late, I could eat Fruity Pebbles for dinner, and I could listen to my music as loud as I wanted without Mama doing her one finger sharp tap on my door to turn it down.
Then, I turned 18 and realized I needed to get my stuff together, and by stuff, I mean life.
I had decided at some tender age I wasn’t going to college, then saw my friends pack up and move to dorms scattered around the state and the U.S.
“If you’re not in school, Kitten, you may want to find you a job,” Mama announced over her crossword the summer after I graduated.
I started working when I was 15 - even lied about my age to get my first real job - but that was to supplement my makeup, hair, and clothing expenses that continued to increase.
I wasn’t so sure I was wanting a full-time gig.
So, I decided to go to technical school and when I dropped out after a semester, Mama dropped the help wanted section of the newspaper on my lap. “Here you go,” she said.
I was shocked. Didn’t she love having her Kitten at home on the couch?
“As long as you’re in school, I’ll support you. When you’re in school, learning is your job. Since you’re not…” her voice trailed off as she tapped the jobs she had circled. “And I am not paying your phone bill. I don’t talk on the phone as much as you do and I’m a phone operator!”
I sighed. That Crazy Redhead was making me get a job.
So I did. A part-time job waiting tables during lunch.
“That’s just a few hours a day,” she said.
“Yeah, isn’t that perfect?”
“No. You’re working less than 20 hours a week. You get either a full-time job, another part-time job, or go back to school.”
“I’m an adult!” I cried. How could she be so unfair? We were equals now -- her with her fancy job with benefits and a retirement pension, and me with my three hours a day gig.
“That’s the rules, Kitten.”
I got another part-time job and let me tell you something -- I hated every second of it.
Nothing motivates me like spite or loathing, so I soon found myself scrambling to put together college applications.
Being an adult, I had decided, was grossly overrated from what I’d experienced.
I still had to work throughout my undergrad program; my phone bill was pretty ridiculous and it was mostly to my first husband, who I was then dating, and Mama refused to pay one penny towards a conversation with him. I commuted to school too, since the thought of living in a dorm grossed me out and I wanted to be home with my grandfather, who had Alzheimer’s.
Overall though, I had a pretty sweet situation and I even liked where I worked, too.
When I graduated, I knew adulthood -- real adulthood, complete with figuring out how to buy insurance, a car, and all that jazz was on my horizon.
It was surely the biggest racket I’d ever seen.
Sure, I felt all grownified because I could have chocolate cake for breakfast but I had to buy that cake with my own money.
When I went back to grad school several years ago, I asked Mama if she was going to stick to her original statement of supporting me as long as I was in school.
And laughed. Apparently, she thought I was joking.
My son has had a taste of earning a paycheck and is eager to return to the workforce. I applaud his work ethic and his drive, but I want him to enjoy being a kid as long as he can.
The focus on his education and future is his job now and that takes precedence.
But I can understand how he may be feeling those pangs for independence just like I was. He’s at that age where he’s kind of in between the world of adulthood and being a kid, and being an adult just seems to be like such a great place to be.
Trust me, it’s not.
It’s all just a trap to make us feel like we’re rebels when we eat ice cream for dinner as we decide which insurance policy is the best.