To most people, becoming adult depends solely on time passing. To those who have given the word five seconds’ thought it is defined by change: a mortgage, parenthood, taking out funeral insurance.
The concept worries me, mainly because my adolescence lasted so long I felt senility might well arrive first. Nor am I yet shut of those worries; at eighty-five I am still accused of childishness.
A scene from my youth emerged at about 5 am today. I’m still only a tea-boy at the newspaper. I have lunched in the canteen and am watching reporters who have also lunched play dominoes. There’s a technique to dominoes and a special vocabulary; the reporters are skilled in both these matters.
Clearly I am not an adult during this scene. But let’s be more specific. This is the passive part of my life wherein I merely observe. I’m sitting with the reporters because I admire their reporting skills and want to be like them. I’m also learning a little about dominoes. I also secretly admire the outward demeanour that goes with playing this game.
When it comes to girls, I don’t even dare to observe.
When I write my first article I take a first step out of passivity. When I finally become an editor, twenty years later, I am no longer passive, I impose myself. By my own professional standards I am now adult. But not in all senses. During these twenty years I have become a husband and a parent and many years are to pass before I become what I consider to be an adult parent.
“Adult” demands qualifications. A father who takes his son to Saturday soccer, rain or shine, yet is fanatical about stamp-collecting is not wholly adult. Some way to go then, but not with stamps