‘the responsible adult’
My favorite mythical creature is the responsible 'adult'. I first heard about this amazing creature when I was a small child. Everyone spoke of the powers adults held. They could chew gum whenever and where ever they pleased, could drink soda with anything, could drive, make decisions for others... adults had super powers and were able to access anything they wanted and had answers.
As a kid I learned adults could make humans. I learned they could decide what happens to humans, they made and enforced laws, and no one told them what to wear.
As a teenager, I realized that my childhood ideas of the adult were, actually, quiet skewed. I had to relook at the decision to think if they still existed... I was having my own job now that magically gave ME money. I was able to buy my own gum, I found out I did not even like soda, I not only learned how to drive but I could do so and people who WERE a form of adults would ask ME to drive them places! Still.... these 'adults' did not have to raise their hands to go to the bathroom Monday through Friday, they did not get detention for not using crayons on dittos, and still had ruling authority over others.
I always loved the idea of adults because when I was small I learned they for the most part loved kids, did cool things, had neat things, owned animals, and said amazing and smart things. I wanted one of my own to know... or I wanted to learn to become one because that is what everyone said could happen, that I would be able to grow up and become a responsible adult.
I didn’t know my Grandma was an adult... she was a gram. She also didn’t have everything she wanted and she never had any desire to drive a vehicle. She also, to be fair would flip her dentures out at children in the market to watch their facial expressions and she laughed at anything to do with farts... even I was not that childlike. My dad was not an adult because he was a criminal, adults were never criminals. My mom, not much older than me was not an adult because I was taught that adults never lied. My mom was a liar. So maybe a responsible adult was a real adult.
Finally- I exchanged 'adolescence' by being handed a piece of paper called a diploma coupled with turning 18 with being a 'young adult'; and told when I was 21 I was FINALLY going to morph into this mythical creature I have been searching for my whole life! However, before I was old enough to go to war, but not drink or purchase a few certain things or go a few certain places in my own country- I made humans. When I looked at the first human I made, I realized perhaps a real adult did not fully form if they did not follow proper timelines of leveling up??? I waited it out and continued to look for the adult that for half my life, my entire prospective identity was based upon being measured against.
Eventually I turned 21. I had made humans. I was able to do all the things I was told were reserved for adults... but there was no excitement in it- basically I already had owned my own dogs for years and there was nothing outside of the new humans I found more exhilarating and empowered by having as part of 'my capacity' to do.
When I was 25 I clearly remember realizing that adults were not a real thing- they were a mythical creature designed to be either something promised, something pretended, or something established as an ideal- but did not exist. Society was showing me the whole time that this was true, I just kept seeking this thing I wanted to know or be like until I was so busy not being the thing I was enamored with finding my whole life I forgot about them.
Seeing this writing prompt was such perfect timing, I must say- because recently my curiosity and admiration of the allure of the ever illusive 'adult' reemerged. I realized what the adult really was and it really WAS all of the things I was told about my whole life- the adult was free, and could do whatever they wanted, when they wanted. The adult participates in commerce of the world around them with ease having earned it with just the title, the adult can consume anything they want- and they DON'T have to be responsible if they chose not to; being part of the freedom. They could be criminals, and they could laugh at farts- I was wrong about what the adult really was all about because I was told the wrong things.
Having said that, dear reader, should you still be here with me... slip around this fourth wall a second, if you please.
You see, a few years ago when I was actually writing a piece here on 'The Prose', most likely at that time 3 gummies in, I wrote a store about Bob Vila.
While I was writing that for my own (honestly our The Prose community entertainment) it occurred to me- adults really are things of fiction. THEY ARE FICTIONAL CHARACTERS that WE ... ME and YOU and all the other writers create. WE create adults in our writing. Sure, we flaw them- purposely so as to make them more like US, humans. I was so interested in adults because my whole life, since I was able to read because like you, I was reading their lives... we all have been about 'adults' but have you ever really met one? I haven’t and I have been working with and around humans a long time.
Sherlock Holmes, Atticus Finch, Jay Gatsby ... adults! and for the people who told us- no matter what generation you are from, they were all introduced to what an 'adult' was by Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, Alexandre Dumas, C.S Lewis and their generation's ideas of adults going back to a time when Murasaki Shikibu wrote The Tale of Genji. Before that, older humans learned of adults through (and still today) from the likes of poetry by Homer and Shakespeare. Should you know who some, any, or none of those named above they are all the humans that shaped the definition of 'adult' being something more than a 'human who is done growing'.
We were only acting as adults when we were reading about them, as we lived their 'lives' and experiances with them. I believe that is why we also love so deeply the non-adults of The Outsiders and Hogwarts. I'd near guarantee almost all of us spent those 'two days' in the life of Holden Caulfield after he was expelled and then himself became aware of the 'adults' being mythical.
Perhaps adults at one time did exist in our history- but perhaps if they did, so then did dragons; we know giants existed, or at least what humans perceived as such by naming them so. And with having said that, even though I ebbed and flowed on it, and even though I looooooooove dragons.... my whole life my favorite mythical creature in the entire human world, has been the 'adult'.
btw: the banner pic, I asked AI to make Bob Belcher a human in a field of tulips.
I'm 45, sometimes I still wish I could be an adult.
love you guys