April 18, 2017 at 8:22 am, by Carl

The word, “adulting” has entered the lexicon of the nation over the past few years or so.  At least its a semi-real word, as opposed to other so-called words that are just portions of words….I guess this development in our language is merely the “text-speak” syndrome.   In any case, this is what passes for the understanding of people in their 20s, and sadly some in their 30s, that there is a difference between the world of a child and the world of an adult.


Today is my eldest daughter Logan’s birthday.  She is 22.  Officially legal last year, now begins the road into “adulting.”   She is there already in her mind and attitude.  Very aware of responsibilities and supremely capable of moving into this new world.  Of course, its not without its fraughts and difficulties.  I’m 52 and sometimes still wish to be the child and ask my beloved and wise parents to just decide for me, to do things for me.  I bet 100s of years ago that same feeling was felt too.  I think, though, Logan’s challenge will be discovering that she is among the few of her peers who is well equipped to be “the adult.” Finding out you are the only one “adulting” while your peers, 22, 25, 28, 30s, are still avoiding it, acting like children….that’s our modern day challenge.


Urban Dictionary says the word means “doing something grown-up and responsible.”  Merriam-Webster notes using the noun “adult” as a verb (really as a gerund in this case) has exploded only since last year, and the concept means “to behave like an adult, to do the things that adults regularly have to do. This includes things like having a job and living independently, sure, but also such mundanities as taking clothes to the dry cleaners (and remembering to pick them up), making and keeping dental appointments, getting your car registered, doing yardwork.”


I guess in one sense I see the fun and silly side of this term.   We have become a frivolous society generally anyway, and that’s not all bad.  As the Joker often taunts “why so serious.”  Its fun to play video games, to let the grass grow while we play with our children or avoid some normal adult activities like planning your own food so rather going out to eat.


And yet, the concept is also a frustrating because to be self-responsible is a key step of maturity.  We used to teach this to our children when they were young.  I had my own key to the house, knew how to answer the phone and was responsible for taking phone call notes, getting in the mail, taking care of the dog and generally doing normal things that today would be considered “adulting” when I was 9-10.  So did my sister.


Decades earlier, by the time one was 10-12, you were already hunting, caring for the farm (lest we all starve and die), tending to the farm animals, sewing, cleaning and often, for girls of that age, tending to the younger children so that Mother could work.  Oh yes…side bar…this idea that somehow women didn’t get to work till the 1960s or maybe the 1920s is so false….go back in time and ask any woman of the farm, house or frontier prior to the 1900s and she will tell you just how much she worked.


Later, we did indeed marry teens, usually in the 15-18 range…to reach 19 and still single, especially for a girl, was a sign of some kind of problem.  It wasn’t cruel or unusual or despised.  It was normal.  In fact, the concept of the “teenager” does not exist till after World War 2 when Madison Avenue marketers discovered that for the first time ever, young people aged 12-18 has discretionary money and time.  College became big then too, so we started sending our young adults off to college.   The rest since the 1950s, then, has been a slow move to this point where our 30-year olds celebrate when they finally figure out that they should be “adulting.”


Well, for me, today I will celebrate….not my own “adulting” (I’ve been doing some of that stuff since I was a teenager), but rather celebrate that my daughter (and all 3 of my girls) knows how to adult and will be fine in the world.  I am so proud of you, Logan, and am excited to watch how you navigate in the years to come.


Happy Birthday, my dear!!!