The other day a student asked me if they could use an X-acto knife, a lighter, and a garbage bag for a science experiment. My immediate thought was “Maybe we should wait for adult supervision.” Then I realized that I AM THE ADULT SUPERVISION IN THIS SCENARIO. Dear God.
Who decided that this was okay? I cannot possibly be considered an adult in a mature society. I still spend weekends in my pajamas watching superhero movies. I tell my students that they should get adequate sleep every night, but I’m still up until 2:30 (except for on Sundays where I just don’t go to bed at all). When did we as a culture decide that it was okay for me to be the grown up in any given situation? Sweet Jesus, these kids look up to me like I have it all figured out and most of the time I’m imagining what it would be like to be a wizard (answer: freakin’ cool. That’s how it would be). How did we get here?!
I used to think I was a grownup. There’s been a lot of times when I told myself “now I am an adult.” I said that when I got my first job. When I chose to be baptized. When I earned my driver’s license. When I graduated high school. I said it the first time I got up in time for class without hitting the “snooze” button first. When I got married. When I got my degree. Hell, I considered myself an adult the first time that I decided that ice cream can, in fact, be a good dinner (take that, Mom and Dad). So why, now when everyone else considered me “grown up,” am I suddenly doubting it? Because, seriously, that can’t be right. Adults don’t wear super sweet fuzzy slippers while watching Disney movies. Which I do. A lot.
Let me tell you a story. Two weeks ago, our car battery died while we were buying groceries in the next town over. We had been expecting the battery to go bad, so it wasn’t really a surprise, but it could have been quite inconvenient. So, when we finished shopping and our car wouldn’t start, I was prepared for a bad day. Instead, my husband pointed out that CarQuest was still open and that we had enough money in the bank right that moment to buy a new battery. That has literally never happened before. We have never had a car issue that we could fix right then and there. I just kind of gaped in surprised while screaming inwardly: “IS THIS WHAT BEING AN ADULT FEELS LIKE? BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME!” I’m pretty sure adults don’t clap with glee when they figure out that they might be considered adults. Just a hunch.
My parents were my age when I was born. I think about that and kind of just stare blankly at a wall with a smile on my face because I don’t want to admit that I totally don’t feel like I’d be capable of raising anything to become a functional human being. I can’t even get myself to be a functional human being sometimes. So the fact that other people let me mold their kids for 8 hours a day is both amazing and daunting. It’s like being handed an entire box full of LEGO every morning at 7:30 and I’m allowed to build anything with them that I want. That analogy right there should tell you how mature I am.
And yet…Maybe I’ll never actually feel like an adult. Looking back, all those times in the past when I felt like a grownup were really the delusions of a child (possibly an overgrown one). So maybe my finally being able to question my status as teacher, guardian, and mature woman is a sign that I’m finally capable of asking the right questions. Maybe now that I am actually considering what I’m able to do with this power, it means that I’m actually responsible enough to use it for good…
…Or maybe that inner-wizard-me finally gained enough experience to level up. That seems likely, too.