I remember as a kid I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up, when I could do whatever I wanted. The future was a blank page, waiting for me to fill it with dreams, goals, and, more importantly, my own set of rules. I couldn’t wait to be my own boss and not have someone telling me to eat that despicable broccoli. The only way that tree with its overcooked stalk was going down was if I smothered it in cheese. As a grown-up? I wouldn’t even put it on my plate. Forget that, I didn’t even have to buy it.
My kids and I have the same battles: I tire of repeating myself. The kids act like I don’t know anything. Oh, I know a thing or two.
Then. When I was a kid, being a grown-up looked so cool. Grown-ups can wear whatever they want. No one raises their eyebrows when your shorts inch higher every year. No one makes you zip your coat when it’s cold out. You don’t have to hide the fact that you’re wearing eye shadow without permission because all the other seventh-grade girls’ eyelids and capris share the same pastel colors.
Now. I could wear whatever I want, but “mom clothes” was coined for a reason. Plunging necklines mean kids get a sneak peek at mom’s bra, a thickly padded curiosity.
Then. Having to go to bed when everyone else was still up just wasn’t fair. I could hear dishes clattering, voices chattering, and my God, the TV! What did they do at night, throw a party? Adults could do anything. Stuck in my twin bed with only a teddy bear as company, I dreamed of the day I could stay up all night. I would never be tired.
Now. I wish I were the one being read a story and tucked in every night, but clothes need to be washed and dried. Permission slips need to be signed. I fall onto the couch in exhaustion and just hope I can make it through one favorite TV show. Not exactly the all-nighters I dreamed about.
Then. I could fill my future with catalog dreams. I’d buy whatever I wanted: the coolest toys, the fastest car, a thousand Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.
Now.The coolest toys happen to be a vacuum that works and an immersion blender. A van covered in crumbs and goo gets me here and there. And savings in the bank means more than any collection.
Then. Meat loaf, pork chops, green beans, peas. Blech. Why couldn’t we just eat ice cream and potato chips and brownies for dinner anyway? I swore I’d never, ever make meat loaf.
Now. Guess what? I make meat loaf. My kids hate it. It’s the circle of life or something. I even like mushrooms and avocado and other slimy things I gagged at as a child. My six-year-old self is watching and sticking out her tongue. Traitor.
Little did I know then that when you become a grown-up, you sometimes like vegetables. You pay for all that junk food with something called indigestion. Those clothes your mom wouldn’t let you wear? You gain the sense that no respectable girl would wear them. Staying up late? All day all you want to do is go to sleep for lack of energy. Little did I know when I was a kid that I had it good then.
My kids often say, “I don’t care.” They don’t care that they’ll be tired in the morning. They don’t care that vegetables will make them big and strong. They don’t care what anything costs because Christmas or grandparents will come soon enough. They don’t care that they’ll be cold when it’s 40 degrees out and they insisted on wearing shorts to school.
Some things need to be learned the hard way. I smile. I remember the way I saw the world too. And I know one day, they’ll see it the way I do.