Wednesday, September 7, 2011


When you're a child, it's easy to believe that the adults in your life have everything figured out; you think to yourself, "they know what they're doing" and then you curl up and fall asleep in the backseat.

Only as we grow older do we discover the truth: there was quite a lot that our parents improvised--simply made up as they went. We learn this when we reach our early to mid 20s and discover that there's no training seminar on how to be a grown-up. We may have a college diploma at our disposal: a piece of paper that proves that we're competent to work in one field or another (anything from teaching to journalism to working as a lab technician). Yet, that certificate is no guarantee of our competency to live as adults... it simply means that we knew how to succeed in the still-relatively-controlled environment of school.

Learning to be independent, learning to pay taxes, to rent and furnish an apartment, to eat healthy while cooking for oneself... these things take work. Throw in marriage and family, and that's a lot to juggle. For most of these tasks, we won't have someone looking over our shoulder, giving us constant guidance and feedback. Help is there when we ask for it, but ultimately, as adults we are expected to accomplish these tasks ourselves.

This was a revelation that struck me this past week one morning as I was setting up my classroom for the coming day. It dawned on me that I was the grown-up in the classroom and had been for a few years. When did that happen?! It really is a quiet transition that sneaks by without any fanfare. In some ways, childhood seems so recent. Certainly adolescence seems recent. I tell my students stories from my high school years that seem so fresh in my mind until I lead off with something like, "I started my freshmen year in fall of 2000, so this story happened 11 years ago." When I was a freshmen, 11 years was nearly an entire lifetime. When I was a freshmen, my current freshmen students were toddlers. And, here's something I literally just realized that affects my plans for class this week: Walking into class this coming Friday and asking my kids what they remember about 9/11 is probably not a fruitful idea. Hmm... change of plans.

So, I accept and embrace the fact that I'm a grown-up. Even though I feel a little frustrated, lost and clueless about what adulthood entails at times, I take solace in the fact that surely I am not the first to feel this way, nor will I be the last--and many others who felt this way turned out fine. For now, I need to learn how to be an adult... a scary prospect--a little sad (au revoir, childhood), but mostly exciting. Right now, at this very moment, being an adult means taking care of myself, recognizing that I'm tired and feeling under the weather, and going to bed. And so, I close my semi-stream-of-consciousness ramble on adulthood. Goodnight!

1 comment:

  1. And part of being an adult is making sure the kids around you think you know what you are doing. Had you fooled, didn't we?? Love you! Mom