Friday, November 7, 2003

Perpetual Toys R Us Kid
By Tia

I guess the title is a little deceiving. We all know the song, “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys R Us Kid.” Well it’s not that I don’t want to grow up, it’s that I can’t seem to grow up. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to be one of those people who are staunch, stuffy, uptight and boring. I could never do that. But at some point I would like to stop forgetting that I’m not 22 anymore. It would be nice to not feel like I just left college last year since it’s been almost four years.

I was having a “moment.” I was at the fall festival that my church has every Halloween and I was, shall we say “caught up” and not in the good way. I was looking around and I began to notice that a lot of the people that I used to hang with seemed to have metamorphosed into real live grown-ups. This guy I had a crush on for about 3 minutes now has a wife. (I’m going to be really honest. I can’t even really talk to the guy now. Although he never knew I had a crush on him, I KNOW. And I’m down right embarrassed because basically I had a crush on someone’s husband. I know it doesn’t make sense since he wasn’t a husband then, but how often do I say stuff that doesn’t make sense? Often enough that you should know by now to just smile and nod and keep on reading.) A couple I know went to grad school in California last year and now they’re back and she looks like she was due YESTERDAY. I didn’t even know she was pregnant. Another girl I know is buying a condo. In the four years I’ve known her all she’s talked about is buying a house for herself and her son. And now she’s doing it. And the list goes on and on. My last road dog from college got married last year. My clubbin’ buddy from college just had a baby. That is scary. The same girl who was on the platform with me droppin’ it like it was hot, in Italy no less, is now a wife AND mother. Oh Lord.

Anyway, in my moment of panic I called Toya and explained that I’m just not a grown-up. She calmly explained to me that I am in fact a grown-up, just look at the bills I pay. And God bless her for trying, but if paying bills makes one an adult than I’ve been an adult since I was 16. I started working at 14 and got a legitimate job at 16 to support my music habit. I worked 2 jobs most of the time I was in college and had my own apartment by my junior year. But somehow through all of that I still don’t feel like an adult. What is that about?

I shared all of this with my friend Angela and she being as wise as she is plainly asked, “Do you feel this way because things don’t seemed to have changed much for you since you left college?” Have you ever had a revelation? It’s just how it’s portrayed in the cartoons. The sky opens up. Light shines down on you. And angels sing, birds chirp and harps play. Okay that may be a bit of an exaggeration. But that’s how I felt. I realized that I hadn’t had what I thought were the great adult defining milestones in my life: Marriage, House, Kids, Vacations…etc. But then I began to look even further. Who says that those things make you an adult? I know babies who have babies. I’ve seen seemly grown-up people make childlike decisions and destroy their adult covenant of marriage. I’ve seen first hand how people trying to find definition through expensive real estate have subsequently put themselves in a really adult situation: bankruptcy. And I have to wonder after the dust had settled, after the diapers had been changed, after the argument about the trash not being taken out had ended, did any of those things make them feel more like the adult they thought they should be or did they still feel like a little kid playing house?

I guess being an adult comes with time. It takes more time for some than it does for others. I may not be the poster child for what some might consider an adult. Yes, I still play video games on the regular. I watch cartoons every weekend. I sleep with a Winnie the Pooh. I have Spiderman Underoos. Okay, I wish I had Spiderman Underoos. But I also work 40+ hours a week. I don’t have to ask my parents for anything. And I won’t have to get a permission slip signed to leave the country in April. So maybe I haven’t completely left childhood behind but who’s to say you have to. Maybe being a child at heart is not as weird as Michael Jackson has made it out to be. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll wake up and realize that the man in the shower, the kids down the hall, the SUV in the driveway and the overflowing out box at the office didn’t make me a grownup after all, they just make me a big kid with more stuff.

Thank you Jesus/Even when you see us just as we are/Fragile and frail and so far from who we want to be
Thank you Jesus/Even when the pieces are broken and small/Dreams shatter and scatter like the wind/Thank you even then

Nichole Nordeman-Even Then

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