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25 June 2010 @ 07:39 pm
[Poll] Adulthood.  
Just like everyone else on the internet, I read Hyperbole and a Half's post on adulthood recently. As a result I have said, "Clean all the things?" to Best Beloved at least 76 times today. I expect I will be saying it regularly forever.

The post made me think about adulthood. And how I mostly do not get it.

When I was 10 and our washing machine exploded, turning our house into something more waterpark than domicile, my parents knew exactly what to do; they totally efficiently turned off the water, called the water company, and called the insurance people. All I could think of was to hold up my pants, which didn't want to stay on anymore once they'd taken on 40 pounds of water weight. I thought, I cannot wait until I am grown up and I know what to do.

When I was 17, I got my first flat tire, and of course I panicked and drove home on the rim. My father laughed and put on my spare tire and took my car out for a new tire, and then he explained why we don't drive on a flat. And I listened and looked forward to the day when I knew this stuff, when I just knew what to do.

When I was 25, Best Beloved and I bought our first house. I sat in the escrow office reading a stack of documents that I needed a ladder to get to the top of and thinking, Surely they will not let me actually buy part of this house. Surely they will notice I don't know what to do.

When I was 35, I sat in a wheelchair (despite my extremely reasonable protests) and carried a tiny baby home in my lap, and I couldn't believe it: they were letting me leave the hospital with the most important person in the world, and I still didn't know what to do.

Responsible adulthood did not happen to me. I never found a copy of the manual called What to Do. Instead, I have cobbled together a set of coping skills that let me fake being a responsible adult most of the time, while I stare in wonderment at the people around me who actually seem not only to have the manual but also to have read it and learned it to the point where they don't even need it anymore. And yet they never want to sell their old copy.

So, you know, now I'm wondering: how many of you know What to Do?

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: [poll]
Olna Jenndormouse_in_tea on June 26th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)
How convenient! I logged on to LJ to find one of your posts and recommend a video to you, and here you have made a fresh, convenient post, just for me! Thank you! :D

I'll read the post in just a sec -- but I really think you need to see this vid. ST: TOS, the timing is spectacular, and it's full of Kirk and Spock flirting! (and everyone else too, but you see I know you.)

...you've probably seen it, but oh well.

gaudiorgaudior on June 26th, 2010 12:55 pm (UTC)
...dear gods, TOS is cracktastic.
Olna Jenndormouse_in_tea on June 26th, 2010 03:36 am (UTC)
oh hell, I never know What to Do.
can't find my drink or pantsgeeklite on June 26th, 2010 03:57 am (UTC)
I just turned 40 and still have no idea what to do. Usually I can fake it a lot (so tempted to use "alot" there in homage to Allie Brosh ;) My secret is a deep-down determination that Things Will Work Out.

Except for the baby thing. I still have no idea if I'm doing OK or if I'm breaking childthing at some fundamental level. He is still ingesting formula and outputting urine these days, so I'm calling it a win for now.
Silent Keyradargrrl on June 26th, 2010 04:54 am (UTC)
45 and no clue, which disturbs me because everybody around me does seem to know. How the hell did they find out?
spiffikinsspiffikins on June 26th, 2010 05:10 am (UTC)

I'm deeply suspicious that that's all there really is - the longer you survive, the more Things you Learn to Cope with, and the more Things People Expect you to be able to Handle.

bibliokatbibliokat on June 26th, 2010 05:10 am (UTC)
I have a few Clues, but not many at 24. Apparently it doesn't get much better.

My dad though is one of the Clue-ful people. He has this theory that people get magically endowed with knowledge at certain ages. As in "you're 21, how don't you know this?" and so on. I think I've been skipped a few times...
a particularly troubled Romulan: Zoe Saldanaillariy on June 26th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
Hehe, twentysomethings unite. I too have the feeling that I've missed a couple software updates...
sdani: inigosdani on June 26th, 2010 05:21 am (UTC)
I really think a good percentage of folks are faking it as well and just don't admit it as readily. :-)
Mistress Marilyn: janice rose: charliemcmistressmarilyn on June 26th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
I'm still waiting to grow up. I used to look at grown-up people around me and figure when it happened, I'd know. I'd feel different.

Still waiting, 50 years later.

I've never learned what to do, but I usually figure it out. Maybe this is true for most people, but faking it makes them kinda grim.

Not me. I'm one of the lucky ones.
jeanniewaljeanniewal on June 26th, 2010 07:03 am (UTC)
I think I have one step worse - I think I know WHAT to do, in most situations, I just don't know how the hell to actually DO it. Insurances, for example. I know we should have them. My parents have them. They told me that they're a good thing. But I live in a very old house with a broken roof - how do I go about insuring that??? The questions on the forms all seem to automatically exclude my house. I have even watched tyres being changed, quite a few times. But I'm too scared to actually do an experiment and try and change a perfectly healthy tyre myself...

I know kids should eat fruit. I put fruit out for them. Sometimes they eat it, sometimes they don't. I wish I knew how to sell fruit to them so that they WANTED to eat it. I want them to be super-healthy dammit!

So you see, I know what I should be doing. I watch other people doing stuff, and think oh yes, that's grown up behaviour all right, although they deny it! I just don't really know how to get it all right myself, and so yes, I'm faking it a lot of the time.

And actually, I have a sneaky suspicion we all are. The concept of being grown up is only something that a child has . There actually isn't a state called "grown-upness" There's just the person you've always been doing her or his best in a confusing world. That's my feeling, and I'm sticking to it!!

Clean *everything*?? How ridiculous! *looks around kitchen and winces*
sheldrakesheldrake on June 26th, 2010 08:56 am (UTC)
The poll reveals that I'm probably not as hopeless as I believe myself to be... but I should probably clean all the things now. Or at least before my house is sealed, condemned and razed to the ground by the government.
Sally M: bertiesallymn on June 26th, 2010 10:16 am (UTC)
I'm afraid I slid straight from my first childhood into my second and am now probably on my third or fourth (I blame it on the genes, my father was the same). At the ripe old age of mumbledy-and-a-bit, I don't think I've ever reached adulthood (I don't have kids, though, which makes staying childish rather less embarrassing)

I do know more about What NOT To Do (from unhappy hands-on experience) but no, What To Do is always someone's else's speciality....
Loriel Eris: crap // sg1loriel_eris on June 26th, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
Ok. Haven't even looked at the poll yet, but omg, I love this post forever. I'm 28. I too am still waiting for the day when I Am Grown Up And Know What To Do.

Or rather, in most a reasonable number of cases, I know what should be done, but I'm not entirely sure about how it should be done...
(no subject) - amnisias on June 26th, 2010 11:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
snailsnailbones on June 26th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)

I stopped growing up somewhere between my 12th and 16th birthdays and I've been winging it ever since. Like the bloke who fell off the skyscraper "so far so good". *g*

St. Crispin's: mom purple heartst_crispins on June 26th, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)
Your parents faked it, too. That's the secret. There is no manual. Adults only act like there is and then the kids believe us.
misspamelamisspamela on June 26th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
Yes, this. I hear the things that come out of my mouth to my children and I am amazed. "I had to call the insurance company after digging through boxes of crap to find the number and let them know about the accident texting Mr. MissP 50 times about how if they don't cover it, we can't buy groceries so they can take care of it. Now here's a snack Damn, how old are these raisins anyway? and go play outside."
(no subject) - st_crispins on June 26th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)