Figuring out what you do and do not like, and leaning into the former, is one of the great privileges of adulthood.-Brett McKay, Art of Manliness
The other day my mother was visiting, and she was ordering me around. We were just kidding, and I said, “This is my house, so I make the rules.”
(Side note: I would not recommend saying that to your mother, no matter your age, no matter that she knew it was a joke, and no matter that we were in my house where I do make the rules.)
All jokes aside, I got to thinking about it later. It is my house. I do make the rules.
Welcome to the privileges of adulthood.
Adulthood gets a bad rap. I’ve written before on this blog my disdain for the word “adulting” when used by younger people to give themselves a pat on the back for doing some mundane task like washing dishes. Don’t worry, I won’t go down that road again.
Childhood is often idealized. Don’t get me wrong, mine was near perfect. But it doesn’t beat adulthood.
This sentiment is best described in the last bit of a puff piece from Today in 2018. Savannah Guthrie interviews Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein, the stars of the television show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
You can watch the entire video if you’d like, but the bit relevant to our discussion today comes at 6:00 into the video and lasts less than a minute.
Guthrie: Is there one luxury you have now that you would not want to give up?
Brosnahan gives the practical answer of a dishwasher. But Alex Borstein, who has been wise-cracking her way through the interview, gives a surprisingly profound answer.
Borstein: I am the grownup and I would never go back. I get to make all the decisions. I get to decide what’s in my fridge and my pantry, what time we get up. If I’m too tired, then maybe the kids just don’t go to school that day. ‘Cause I get to decide. I’m in charge.
And that’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? No matter how great my childhood was, I still had to eat Sloppy Joe sandwiches and tuna boats. When my mother thought I was sleeping too late, she ran the vacuum cleaner in my room.
But I got my license for adulthood long ago, and I’ve been the one driving for so long that I would never again want to be relegated to the back seat.
I’ve got a quicker trigger finger these days. When I was a teenager, I’d nearly always stick with a film or a novel until the bitter end. Oftentimes, something that started out slow surprised me. Now, that rarely happens. I know what I like, and when I see something that isn’t it, I’m quick to turn it off.
I will never eat another Sloppy Joe. I will never solve another calculus problem.
Life’s too short and I’m not in school anymore.
I can spend my time as I like, reading the books I like, writing the things I like, wasting an afternoon the way I like.
Sure, I have to go to work, and clean the house, and pay my taxes. If I waste that free afternoon watching You Tube videos instead of taking a hike, I have no one to blame but myself. If something breaks, I have to fix it. If I run out of money, I have to make more or go without.
As Spider Man’s uncle said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
But I get to do all these things on my terms, in my own way. We adults call our own shots.
Except for the taxes, of course.
None of us gets to choose our death or taxes.