When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could reach cabinets so I could reach cabinets without a boost and make decisions about not having to eat broccoli and other things I deemed gross. I grew to like broccoli, and my five foot seven stature ensures I can reach most of my cabinets. I wanted to stay up late and no longer be relegated to kids’ table. Chronologically, I have been an adult for many years, but am I a grown-up?
I felt grown up when I got a driver’s license and my first credit card, and paid my first rent check, but I still wanted to play in the sand and eat chocolate frosting directly from the can. Perhaps when I stopped liking the taste of canned ravioli and spray cheese and developed a preference for fresh foods I became an adult. Or maybe when I bought my first new car or signed the litany of forms to become a homeowner.
On a visit to my brother’s family, when his daughters were still small and I was close to thirty, I showed the girls how to make castles with their mashed potatoes. In a voice eerily similar to our dad’s, my brother looked at me and barked, “stop playing with your food.” After an awkward moment of silence, we all cracked up laughing.
Recently I visited with a couple of old friends from junior high who I had not seen in forty years. Time did not end our adolescence. We giggled and gossiped the same way we did back then. The difference is we did it over wine this time.
I don’t recall having a singular moment when I thought, “Wow, I’m an adult now.” My mirror reflects this jowly faced woman with silver streaks in her hair, yet sometimes I still feel like a teenager. Maybe spending the last twenty five years working in a high school has prevented me from fully becoming a grown up.
I will be retiring in three years (When did I get old enough to retire?) and I feel
I tell people I am finally graduating from high school because it feels like a second youth of sorts. My options are not as unlimited as my twenties when my body was more facile. But my mind is still flexible, and I get to reboot my life with a clean slate. I can choose to get another job, move across the country, become a beach bum, write full time, design jewelry, or return to school and get a doctorate.
On a rerun tonight of That 70’s Show Eric and Donna try on marriage when Donna’s father goes away for the weekend. She undercooks the chicken, and suggests if Eric doesn’t want to eat it, she says,” You can have Fruity Pebbles instead.”
Eric, who constantly tries to prove to his father he's not an irresponsible kid, says, "Grown ups don’t eat Fruity Pebbles."
Do you know what? Grown-ups can eat whatever we want.
Here is a no fail writing prompt for helping add detail: write about food. Food uses all the senses, and in a scene between characters, food bonds people.