Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.
When I was a child, I used to sit on my parents' front porch daydreaming about what my life would be like as a grown-up. I longed to taste the freedom of adulthood, being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
And then, I grew up.
The normal order of things set in. I got a job, an apartment, a car. I met “the one,” got married and had kids. We bought a house, spent a small fortune fixing it up, bought a massive vehicle large enough to house three car seats, and now spend our nights and weekends engaging in bath time, bill paying and laundry. Our main form of entertainment is a bowl of ice cream at night while we watch Food Network. If we're feeling especially peppy, we try to stay awake past 10.
Somewhere in the midst of all this excitement, I realized adulthood wasn't quite the fantasy I had once envisioned. Don't get me wrong — I'm a happy woman. But do I get to do whatever I want, whenever I want? Uh … no.
So, when my child made an announcement one morning as we fought over what color shirt he was wearing, it took me by surprise.
“I hate being a kid,” he exclaimed sourly. “I can't wait to be a grown-up.”
I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. On one hand, it was hilarious listening to this little man echo my own previous sentiments. On the other, knowing what the reality of being a grown-up is, I didn't want him to wish his childhood away.
“I know it seems like that now,” I told him. “But being an adult can be tough. It's a lot of responsibility.”
“I don't care,” he said with determination. “I'll finally be able to do whatever I want.”
I bit my lip. The old adage “what goes around comes around” came to mind, and I wondered if my youthful lamentations were coming back to haunt me. I sat down next to him.
“But when you're an adult, you have to go to work, pay bills, clean the house. … You don't really get to do whatever you want.”
He was not convinced. I had to pull out all the stops.
“And,” I told him, “you can't play on the playground anymore without people looking at you funny.”
He looked at me with consternation.
“Yeah, that's not good,” he agreed.
“I'll tell you what,” I said. “You want to be an adult so you can do whatever you want; so, why don't you pick what we do today?”
“Anything I want?” he asked cautiously.
“Within reason,” I responded with a raised eyebrow.
“Let's go to the park,” he said. “I need to get that in now before I grow up!”
I burst into laughter and received a quizzical look in response. We went to the park as he had asked, and I watched as he ran and played with youthful exuberance. I longed for that kind of energy, and smiled at the irony of finally being an adult, and now wishing for childlike qualities.
“Mom!” my son yelled out to me. “Come swing with me!”
Funny looks from other parents or not, I couldn't resist that little face. I ran over to join my son, and we laughed as we climbed higher and higher on our swings. When we slowed down, he looked over at me.
“Maybe being a kid isn't so bad,” he said, and I smiled.
“But,” he added, “I still think it will be better when I'm a grown-up.”
I sighed. Like mother, like son.