Tomorrow, I’ll be 32 years old. Which is strange because adults are 30 something. Like that show that was on when I was a kid about OLD PEOPLE and though I never watched a minute of it, could tell you it was boooooring and anyway, isn’t Full House on?
I’m not sure how many years it was before I stopped looking over my shoulder when someone would refer to me as “Kiernan’s mom”. Wait, what? Oh right. Me. The “adult”. The person responsible for the health and welfare of an actual human. The one with enough savings to buy a large pizza (hold the toppings) who not too long ago purchased something from the Miley Cyrus collection at Walmart? Sweet Jesus.
It stands to reason that the actual passage of a human through one’s vagina should be enough to trigger the feelings of being an adult. It makes sense. But if I had to pinpoint it for me, it came about six years and TWO giant craniums out the lady flower later when a years prior one night stand sat on my couch and SOLD BOBBY AND I LIFE INSURANCE. Because figuring out how much money you’d be worth if you got hit by a bus tomorrow isn’t enough of a mind fuck.
One of my son’s favorite things when he’s going to sleep is to hear stories from when I was a kid. Collectively, I’ve spent days recounting memories for him. Some mundane, like the wooden swing at Mimi’s house that wore gashes into the branch of the magnolia tree where it rested for years. Others more exciting with the bonus of teaching a lesson, such as the time my best friend and I noticed a car that circled back twice to follow us as we walked around a wooded road in her neighborhood. The final straw of sheer terror being cut as he slowed and yelled “HEY!”. We ran as fast as we could (in the opposite direction his car was facing because McGruff the Crime Dog told us to), my legs turning to jello and hot tears streaming down my face. We banged on the door of the first house we came to as the car pulled into the driveway and the woman scooped us, one under each arm, into her house as the young man demanded to know “ARE THESE YOUR KIDS?”. “Why?”, she asked. “Because they were throwing rocks at my mailbox that I just replaced because someone broke it last week!”. Guess what, asshole. One, we weren’t throwing rocks at the mailbox, two, we didn’t break it last week and three, WHAT KIND OF DICKSICKLE CHASES TWO NINE YEAR OLDS WITH HIS CAR BECAUSE OF A MAILBOX. We called her parents from the kind woman’s house and though I can’t remember if they picked us up or we walked back weak kneed, I know once we got there we felt just a teensy bit bad ass because we trusted our guts, ran like hell and did exactly what we were supposed to do. Would be kidnapper or not, we took a damn good bite out of crime.
There are stories of my childhood dog Arthur who had a taste for metal and devoured the zipper out of my cherished hot pink ski coat. How we had to lift the blinds high enough on the front door before the postman stuffed our mail in the slot lest he launch his 12 pounds into the air and attack them with the fury of a grizzly bear in heat. The smell of him dying from the inside out as he shrunk to nothing still can occasionally waft in my nose and and even after I left home the jingle of his collar followed me.
There are the tales of clubs and activities I joined and quit, most all because of wardrobe related refusals. (The Girl Scout blouse was horrendous, the spandex dance leotards did me no favors and if you think I’m going to be caught dead in polyester softball pants AND an ill fitting baseball cap TAKE THAT BAT AND SHOVE IT.)
I’ve talked through tours of the Jersey shore always including the peach boom box I won on a spinning wheel and the tickets I used at the arcade to buy a small ceramic piggy bank that read ” I HEART SEASIDE HEIGHTS” on the side. (To collect my dimes in for skeeball, of course.)
But why do we choose to hang on to the memories that we do? Particularly the ordinary ones? And how much of memory is shaped by the overall quality of the years spent as kids?
My son is 8 now, my daughter 2. With each moment that passes, which will become memories and which will dissolve? Will they remember the times I scratched their backs as they drift off to sleep or the times I hiss into the dark, “I don’t care if you’re not asleep in five minutes BUT I’M LEAVING. SERIOUSLY.” Will the hour at the playground win out over the half hour of sifting through Goodwill that I tortured them with beforehand? If my son ever dates a woman that wears Chanel Mademoiselle will he whisper in her ear, “you smell like my mom when she’s fancy?”. I hope not on that one. For his sake.
So I’ll concentrate my efforts on the overall. Sometimes I yell. But I give lots of snuggles. Dinner at least once a week is a box of mac and cheese, but I always have the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies.
I’m an adult. And I’m making a childhood.