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Friday, 10 September 2021

Adulthood: that mysterious transition

Democrats vs. GOP
Ordained at birth

Do you remember “growing up”? The Bible talks about “putting aside childish things” in assuming “man’s estate”. What exactly did we put aside and were there regrets?

Climbing trees. Yeah, I regret that. Going high to the thin branches which shivered beneath me. Weight would be a factor now.

Cutlery. Being forced to use a knife and fork instead of a spoon. English practice made things more complicated. In old age I’ve gone backwards – soup spoons for preference.

Discarding shorts. I wanted long pants badly but can’t remember why. With the RAF in Singapore shorts were mandatory, making us look silly.

Soccer in the street. Cars were fewer then but many suburban streets were unsurfaced. You fell and were abraded. Knees almost permanently bloodied.

Asexual outdoor sports. Girls joined in the rough and tumble. Suddenly this became taboo. Deep regrets on my part.

Carol singing. Titillating possibility of that rare commodity – money. And then we were said to be too old.

Sunday school. Stultifying. Couldn’t wait for this to be ruled out.

Sweets (US: candy). Even during WW2 supply for kids was maintained. Then it stopped. The specious justification: adults didn’t suck sweets out of doors.

Reading matter. From my mother’s point of view sexual references were permissible. But not physical cruelty and – especially – torture.

National (ie, military) service. Was this a measure of adulthood? But we were treated like children.

Blowing one’s nose. Shirt sleeve no longer an option. I missed this one since I’d been given hankies from the start.

Making unnecessary noise. Somehow this ceased quite naturally. It no longer offered any temptation.

Cemeteries. These ceased to be the subject of awe and speculation.

Grandparents. The first meaningful experiences of death. Less traumatic than I expected but I always was an insensitive little swine.


  1. In my experience; I went through the army for National Service, courted and married. But "adulthood" only finally arrived for me when my wife and I walked home from the local hospital's maternity ward me cradling my delightful new-born daughter in my arms. I can still relive that experience, her dark brown eyes looking up at me.

    1. Avus: Did you have a mortgage then? Commitment to a 25-year payback period is a good way of wafting away the carefree days of youth.

    2. Yes, I agree that the mortgage was a precursor of the loss of innocence. But the great responsibility for that tiny being, for so long into her future life, came to me on that bonding first walk home from the hospital.

  2. I believed in fairies as a child. I would leave "sweets" and notes for them outside. They would disappear over night. Becoming an adult meant I became aware that there were alternate explanations for the disappearance of my gifts.

    1. Colette: Was the transition painless? No grief, no tears? Just remembered I had an imaginary gang which I commanded via a form of daydreaming. The "villain" was called Roger, perhaps presaging a future, possibly adult moment when I discovered that roger (initial capital r subtracted) meant something else entirely. "Naughty" even.

  3. When I stopped needing a babysitter and became one for families in the neighborhood. That was when I knew I had grown up.

    1. robin andrea: But in leaving childhood behind was there anything you regretted?

    2. Truth be told, I was born old. Serious from day one. I regret not enjoying my childhood years as much as I could have.