The other day my youngest high school princess announced with authority that on her next birthday, she’d officially be an adult: “Mom, you can’t tell me what to do anymore ’cause I’m turning 18 this summer!”
She proceeded to explain that her next birthday was the end of her childhood . I stopped dead in my tracks.
She elaborated: “You can’t tell me how late to stay up, do chores or keep me from flying off to Puerto Rico.”
Well that got me wondering what the actual bridge is that connects our teens to adulthood. What dimension have we entered to gain access to what our children think is “sweet freedom,” but we parents know is a lifetime of responsibilities, commitments, fatigue and warding off dreaded pounds?
So I texted my oldest “Diva daughter” and informed her that her sister was soon to be an adult. I got a long text back with “ha- ha- ha mom” leading in to all her antics before she went off to college. Now this oldest diva is graduating college in May. She is the poster child for proving one can be on the dean’s list with As while still enjoying herself through college.
However, I keep reminding her to enjoy these last few months of the childhood bliss of college life because the party’s over in May. I remind her to look for that summer job and not to sign a new lease on her beloved college house when it expires. I added, “Time to think about next year and all that freedom (responsibility) you’re going to inherit as a college graduate.”
So growing up is a process. We’ve nagged our kids for years to clean up after themselves and budget their money. She’s a clean machine at college and complains her roommates don’t do the dishes, clean their rooms or throw out old food in the refrigerator. It amazes me that when she’s home, the door doesn’t open from all the junk on the floor. I wonder who let the dogs out.
I think our big secret as parents is teaching our children to do as we say, not as we do. We know we’ve been there, done that but they aren’t supposed to know — at least until they graduate. I can remember when I could stay up and party all night, and have the energized attitude of youth the next morning. On the road to those golden years, its nice to have more future than past in our timeline, with that hopeful, carefree attitude of young adulthood. And don’t forget to splurge on that piece of chocolate cake at dinner tonight.
I guess that’s the secret of passing over that bridge to adulthood. We never really grow up and our inner child is what keeps our dreams and energy alive. So go lecture your children one more time about what they’re supposed to do today.
Louise Pollock Gruenebaum is a freelance writer who lives in Prairie Village.