The popular opinion on getting old is that it sucks. You pull muscles just by sneezing, are baffled by fashion and technology, and call popular musicians “Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dog” on cable news.
But there are some upsides, too. Don’t get me wrong, I know being an adult isn’t all fun and games. Unless you think of “paying your mortgage” as a game – a terrible one that takes 30 years to win and the only prize is that you don’t have to play anymore. Today, however, I’d like to look at the brighter side of aging.
5. Dinner is whatever you want it to be.
For children, dinner is the stuff of war. Battle lines are drawn, wills are tested, veggies are hidden or force fed to the dog. But once you grow up, no one cares if you eat your Brussels sprouts. I have not eaten a Brussels sprout in at least a decade. Why would I? They are disgusting and smell like feet.
One of the best parts about being an adult is the freedom to eat like a kid. Ice cream, cereal, off-brand pop tarts. These are all acceptable dinner alternatives if one doesn’t feel like cooking. I’ve eaten a series of random things on crackers and called it a meal before.
Of course this is probably different for people who have kids, since you have to set a good example and blah blah blah, but at least you’re on the other side of the war now. The side with the money to go shopping and the ability to reach the stove.
4. Control over who cuts your hair and how.
My sister and I used to get our hair cut by a woman named Miss Rose. And every few months my mother would take us to Miss Rose and we would sit in the waiting room and flip through books and magazines and think about how we should get our hair cut. Maybe we should grow it out, or see if we could add flips or curls. Then Miss Rose called us up and cut our hair. And no matter what we asked for, we walked out of there like this:
It didn’t matter that the style made my sister and I look like a pair of visiting Danish princes, I had a bowl cut until I was ten and there was really nothing I could do about it. Now, years later, I not only pay someone to do my hair, but I am within my rights to have a very mature and adult tantrum if they try to make me walk out of there looking like John Denver.
3. Never having to do another math problem.
No matter what class, every teacher seemed to have the same mantra about the subject matter that they taught: You’re going to need to know this later. Whether it was calculus, ancient history or physics, teachers seemed convinced that the information they provided would one day be as useful as the ability to drive or use Google.
Now, I hopefully still have quite a bit of living left to do, so perhaps they meant that I was going to need to know that stuff much later. But as of now, I don’t run into the need for much calculus in my day-to-day experiences. If I need to know what time two trains will pass each other if they leave from different places and travel at different speeds, I’ll just check the train schedule. Those things are a lot more reliable than a twelve year-old’s understanding of velocity anyway.
Now, I totally understand why teachers say this. Not only do these subjects lay a foundation for future knowledge, you also don’t want to be that person who doesn’t understand arithmetic or become part of the infuriatingly large population that doesn’t know “your” and “you’re” are not interchangeable. I met a girl in college who didn’t know who won the Civil War. I think that conversation was scary and illuminating for both of us.
All that being said, I still relish the fact that I have never been put in a situation where I need to know this:
A prairie dog runs 50 meters down a straight slope from the top to the bottom of a hill that is 14 meters tall. When he reaches the bottom of the hill and sees a fox, the prairie dog digs a tunnel into the hill, parallel with the flat ground, until he is directly under the top of the hill. How many meters long is the tunnel?
2. You can dress yourself and not look like a crazy person – or you can, if that’s what you want.
You can always tell the parents who put a lot of thought into dressing their kids, because their kids look like hipsters with Benjamin Button disease. And you can always tell the parents who are just happy that their children are wearing clothes at all.
Kids don’t care about trends or social conventions. They dress themselves based on what they like. And what they like is bat-shit insane. So the moment they’re given any autonomy over their own wardrobe, to express their own thoughts and personalities, they dress themselves up like homeless superheros and their parents are forced to take over again almost immediately.
With growing up, though, comes self-awareness and the ability to express yourself through fashion and also not look like a drunken pageant queen. You can still stand out from the crowd, but you’re doing it on your own terms. Like this guy:
1. Selfishness is celebrated.
No one asks adults to do any of that. You know what adults call sharing? Socialism. You want to hold the new Minnesota State Senator Barbie? You better earn enough money to go buy your own and stay the hell away from mine.
As an adult, you have license to say and do things that would’ve gotten you branded a total jerk as a kid. And while those things will still get you branded as a jerk, being an adult jerk is the American way.