The first time I recycled a piece of aluminum foil, I called one of my sisters because she would understand what a horrifying moment that was. Before recycling was “in’, we thought it was just ridiculous that our mother did this regularly – didn’t she know the Depression was over?
My mother was a wonderful person but years later, at 40-something, I still fear of going too far in turning into her. Because, you know, then I wouldn’t be cool. Now I’ve gone past the aluminum foil, past Momisms and possibly veering toward a path to “way too adult.”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be a grown up in many respects — paying your bills on time, watching something on TV that isn’t crap, and taking care of yourself are all important. But let’s avoid becoming Mr. Wilson, cardigan sweater and all. After consulting with a few of my wise friends (Cyna Rosenthal and Lauren Sternberg), I came up with some clear signs that you may be getting GrownUpitis:
1. You find yourself thinking or saying things like: I can’t believe she’s wearing that to work! That skirt is way too short. I remember when this only cost…. Why isn’t he wearing a coat, doesn’t he realize how cold it is? Young people are so rude. How does this thing work? Technology is getting way too complicated.
2. Your conversations frequently revolve around health, government or taxes.
3. You don’t recognize anyone on a People magazine cover.
4. Your old self would be embarrassed at how early your current self goes to bed.
5. You wear what will be most comfortable, not what’s stylish. Or you hear yourself complimenting someone’s shoes by saying they look really comfortable.
6. You look forward to a night of TV.
7. Everyone passes you on the highway.
So, if you are uncomfortable reading any of these signs, perhaps it’s time to loosen up a bit and get in touch with your inner kid. Here are 11 ideas to do just that. (Again, thank you to my fellow not-too-grownups for their suggestions.)
1. Ditch work and do something FUN – when was the last time you flew a kite or made something?
2. Go on the swings at the playground.
3. Have a snowball fight. Or build a sandcastle (don’t get all adulty and think it has to look nice; it can be a shack, just dig).
4. Indulge in a childhood treat. Banana splits, Apple Jacks, Sweet Tarts, whatever makes you happy. Draw squiggly things on a Ritz cracker using canned cheese (my favorite).
5. Give yourself the opportunity for discovery. Go to a new museum or on a guided nature walk and learn something new. Take a piano lesson.
6. Blow bubbles with chewing gum or bubble making stuff.
7. Eat dessert for breakfast
8. Women: wear that short skirt, the silly stilettos or something else impractical that’s gathering dust in the back of your closet.
9. Pet all dogs that you pass
10. Take a break from your cellphone for a day or at least an afternoon. you will survive and the activities listed above will be way more fun. Being a kid was fun for a lot of reasons, one of which is that you were always in the moment, fully experiencing it. Not doable when you’re checking messages.
11. Spend time with actual kids. If you don’t have any convenient to you, give parenting friends a break and borrow theirs or consider volunteering somewhere.
A word about the last one – I’ve heard people say “I’m not good with kids” and have sometimes felt that way myself. I’m going to challenge that here. Do you think the people who babysat you when you were a kid worried that they weren’t going to be sufficiently entertaining or cool? No, trust me, they didn’t. If sitters worried about anything, it was that you wouldn’t go to bed on time or that your parents would get home late and they’d miss meeting their friends.
Kids like getting attention and not being yelled at for little things like getting permanent marker all over someone. I think if you can handle those two things, you’re in good shape. If you’re not a parent, you can leave the yelling to someone else!
PS. Mom, you were ahead of your time with recycling the foil and that stuff isn’t cheap. But I draw the line at turning on my blinker to signal that I’m pulling into the driveway when no one is around. So not cool.