Lawlor / Adulting
I was standing out on the road with my neighbor when his son got out of the car. I thought that his son was away pursuing his dream. What was he doing home?
I can be fairly direct at times, so I asked the 18-year-old why he was home. He explained that his dream fell apart a few weeks ago. He had been 18 for a few weeks when his lifelong dream took a serious hit. He had three short weeks as an adult with a dream when it suffered a massive shot.
His father looked at me and said, “Three weeks is about average to have your dreams crushed.” I nodded my head in agreement. Then I asked the son, “Since you are now unemployed, how about mowing my lawn?” It was hot and I didn’t feel much like mowing the lawn. Plus, I had a full-time job.
My daughter Caroline is an “adult.” I have been slowly trying to not add air quotation marks when I tell people she is an adult. She is 21, has graduated from college, and last week she started teaching history at a middle school in Hartford. I guess she is an adult.
She had to meet everyone at the school at the Back to School Night. She said it was confusing being an adult. When introduced to colleagues, she said her name was Caroline; to parents, she was Caroline Lawlor; and to kids she was Ms. Lawlor. She messed up a few times.
My youngest daughter is 18. She considers herself an adult too. Actually, she has considered herself an adult since she was 8. She recently got a college apartment off campus. Does that make you an adult? She explained to me one day what makes you an adult. “If you can go and pick up someone at JFK Airport and return them safely to Fairfield by yourself you are an adult.” I had to ask: “LaGuardia?” “No.” Not coincidentally, she made the proclamation after she had picked someone up at JFK and her older sister had picked someone up at LaGuardia.
I secretly don’t think of myself as an adult. I am a middle-aged man whose hair has migrated from the top of my head to my back and ears, but I still think of myself as a kid.
My 10-year-old nephew was in town for a few weeks this summer, and he would ask me to do things such as taking the kayak out on a lake to jump off really high rock cliffs into the water. Hell, yes. I was already in the kayak before he finished asking. Most of the time his sensibilities lined up eerily with mine. I had to remind myself that I was supposed to say “no” more.
In the Jewish tradition, you’re an adult when you have a bar or bat mitzvah.
My wife, who is Jewish, did not have one when she grew up, so she recently decided to have a bat mitzvah. So this fall is a monumental time for our family becoming adults. Laura with a bat mitzvah, Caroline teaching, Julia with her first apartment and the neighbor kid mowing the lawn.
Years ago, my youngest daughter (about when she was 8 and considered herself an adult) said that adults have it so easy. She articulated things like driving and eating what and where you wanted. I, of course, pointed out the downside to everything. Except she said, “You get to sit in the front seat of the car.” I am a big guy and I do like sitting in the front, even when I’m not driving. You have the most leg room, your seat reclines, you have the best view, and you get to control both the radio and the air conditioner. However, over the last few years, with aux cords and Bluetooth, my daughters have been trying to control the radio, I still have the air-conditioning as my domain, and if I don’t like the song, I can still recline my seat back on their legs. I guess I really am still a 10-year-old boy.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His column appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at Tlawlor@mcommunications.com.