Growing Up

15 06 2011

I am at that awkward age – as an artist-cartoonist I admire has said – between 5 and 60.  As I approach the upper limit of that range, I have begun to think about growing up.  What does that mean?  I think I know what it does not mean, so I’ll start from there.

Growing up does not mean you have to act your age.

Growing up does not mean you have to always use your indoor voice.

Growing up does not mean you have to like jazz/sushi/Rush Limbaugh/4-door sedans/ .  .  . 

Growing up does not mean you have to order your ice cream in a dish.

Growing up does not mean you have to wear sensible shoes.

I believe growing up has nothing to do with appearances.  It is attitude – wonderful, freeing, comfortable, joyful attitude.

Growing up means knowing your friends love you because you know you love them.

Growing up means you feel no need to explain why you have McDonald’s wrappers in your floorboard.

Growing up means you know who you are and that’s pretty good.

Growing up means you know what you like and you are unapologetically enthusiastic about it.

Growing up means knowing where the lines are and coloring outside them when it suits you.

Father’s Day is Sunday.  My dad’s been gone for almost 20 years, now.  He understood what it meant to be grown up.  When the car got wrecked, his only reaction was to ask, “Was anybody hurt?”  No one was and that was the end of it.  When I went back to college at 28, after dropping out at 18, he insisted on paying my tuition, although he had only gone to the eighth grade himself; it was important to me, so it was important to him.  Those experiences taught me that to be grown up meant people were more important than things and you can support someone’s goals, even if you don’t understand them yourself.  

At last, I have learned what should have been the simplest thing about being grown up – to enjoy yourself.  Dad used to LOVE professional wrestling – you know, Saturday afternoon TV before cable fare.  At that time, I was an “adult” and embarrassed by his apparent gullibility, so I snorted, “I don’t know why you watch that crap.  You know it’s all fixed.”  His response was priceless. “I know they know who’s going to win, but I don’t know who’s going to win.” 

I get it.

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5 responses

15 06 2011
Jen

My father passed away when he was 59. He always said he didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. He taught me how to be a good grown-up. He flew kites with me and chased them across the field when they got away. Sat up late at night in the back yard to watch meteor showers and lunar eclipses. Taught me how to whittle with a pocket knife, hike through the woods with a compass and no trail. He also taught me how to be a good human being. His best lesson was to leave the world a better place, even if that meant something as simple as planting a tree. He planted a lot of trees in our yard, not to mention all the seeds he planted in my mind, my heart and my soul. Personally, I think it’s important to remember to play, that’s what grown-ups should do, play!

16 06 2011
scorchedeyebrowstudio

Jen, what a lovely remembrance. I am sure your little mermaid will have wonderful and wonder-filled memories of her childhood with you and Steve, too.

15 06 2011
wlg5011

What an awesome post Paula. I remember babysitting Jess for you when she was a baby. All she had to do was whimper and your dad was right by my side asking if she needed anything. As long as the ones he loved had what they needed, not much else was important.

My dad has been gone for 17 years and I still fall into the giggles when I think about some of his attempts at being handy with tools (I guess it skips a generation!). But whether he could use a saw or not didn’t matter because I always knew he was there for me. I’ve been told that I am the female version of my dad – I am my father’s daughter. There is no higher praise for me than that.

16 06 2011
scorchedeyebrowstudio

Wendy, my dad was not handy, either, but he was funny, smart, and loyal to his family. We can teach ourselves to use tools; good that we had dads who taught us to use our hearts.

16 06 2011
Bobbi

I get it, too!

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