Teach Me How to Adult (or don’t)

Yesterday, one of my girls who is typically one of my great advocates, was giving me a snarky lip and major attitude. “What’s wrong, C?” I asked. “Why are you being such a teenager?”

“Ms. Eby, when you get older, why do your emotions change?” she asked back. For her utter self awareness and admission that she was being different, I wanted to shake her hand, to pick her up and swing her around, give her a gold star. Instead I said, “Well, C, those are your hormones that are making you feel differently. It’ll all be okay, though. I promise.”

But really, do I promise? Is it going to be okay? Being an adult is a whole different beast. I don’t know if I ever figured out how to be a good teenager and I’m constantly questioning my ability to be an adult.

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I am frequently mistaken for a student. When you can’t beat ’em….

Yesterday one of my best and oldest friends turned 30. Sarah and I met when we were 5 years old in Ms. Vivirito’s room (see also: https://writingamandy.com/2017/10/06/whats-your-deal/). All bangs and baby teeth and lacy white socks rising up from brown bucks from Van Dyke and Bacon. I have literal decades of memories with Sarah. Now, she’s about to become a mother. Just a couple moths ago, we were riding in my mom’s Honda Civic hatchback, nicknamed The Marshmallow, to Girl Scout camping trips gushing about Jonathan Taylor Thomas. And now she’s 30 and I am exactly 2 months away? And JTT, well he’s 36.

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A very convincing Baby Spice (Sarah) and Scary Spice (me). Circa 1997?

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JTT in his mid-thirties. You know you were curious.

It’s almost cliche to even say that this is cliche but where the holy heck does the time go? Now that my crew are mostly teenagers and I am suddenly the enemy, Lucifer, and the erkiest (sic) all wrapped up in one, I am having a eureka moment. I was a mean teenager too. I remember practicing driving with my dad and just screaming at him for existing and for the van not doing what I wanted it to do. I shudder to remember yelling at my mom for not ordering the graduation announcement cards–who the fuck cares about those cards? If they’re getting the graduation photo, they know you graduated. Ugh. I sucked.

But I am not a child anymore. I am a real adult. Well, somewhat real–let’s not get carried away. I pay my bills on time, have a pot-filler in my kitchen (yes a faucet just to fill pots–hold your applause), and I can use Drano in our tub when it gets clogged without poisoning myself. But Chas and I still argue daily about who farted. I still request “Apple Bottom Jeans” at every DJ-run event I attend and dance like a hooker who owns the place. I will never stop calling my dad in a crisis and I can nap like a kindergartner.

But I am an adult. I guess. Thank god I found a husband who is on my level.

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He definitely farted inside that Redwood.

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I love when his inner 5 year old comes out. Note the sizes of the other people playing on this exhibit.

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Lately another member of my crew has been telling me that I “create my own gray hairs” because I “do too much.” What an astute observation?! What she meant was that I say too much, I care too much, I think she matters too much. Yea, yea, I’m used to that, though. Sometimes I’m told that I am “doing the most.” Whew.

The thing is I got to thinking about how much I do do. With Lillie May, yoga side gig, yoga teacher training, this blog, freelance tutoring (shameless plug: seeking clients remote and in person), basketball, football, my burgeoning singing career (that one is a joke), and so many other things I just love to do, I maybe do too much, like she says. I remember Father Bob, the priest who baptized me and married us, said once that being “busy” is a luxury. It’s a cop out. People love to run around saying, “Oh I am so busy.” We love to use “busy” as the trump card (ugh, can we all come up for another term for this in Hearts and in life) to get out of things. Sometimes saying we are busy, is just an excuse we use to say we are not accountable. The spiritual perspective on being busy can be found here. And while I do agree with the writer of spiritual perspective article and I do believe I and we all could stop and examine more often, I am more of the mindset that we are choosing this life. If you’re busy, you probably chose that route. I know I did. Father Bob said that we shouldn’t say we are busy, but we are “involved.” Maybe some of us are “heavily involved.” Busy is often code for “I can’t.” And who wants to have “I can’t” as his or her mantra? Shivers. I am involved and I choose to be involved because I love being involved. Last night I went to The Stoop and in the program one of the speakers had the following written in her bio: “She lives in Towson with her husband and son, who remind her when she complains of chronic sleep-deprivation that it’s her own fault.” Yep.

Now that my job is essentially to prepare kids to be adults, I’m amused by the things I still can’t “adult” with. Comedian John Mulaney said, “It’s tough to know what to do with your money these days. A few days ago, the Dow Jones dropped another 240 points. And I can’t tell you how frustrating it is [DRAMATIC PAUSE] to not know what that means.” I hear you John. Two years ago, I sat with a woman from VALIC named Stacey. Stacey said the phrase “aggressive investing” several times. We made a lot of decisions. I chose this, poo-pooed that. I selected amounts. I picked companies. To this day, I have absolutely no idea what VALIC is, what VALIC does, nor where that money exists. The entire time we were talking, I was chanting in my head “Be AGGRESSIVE! A-G-G-R-E-SS-I-V-E!” She had me at “aggressive.” And by had me, I mean she lost me.

Reader’s note: please don’t explain VALIC to me. I will deal with it when it becomes a problem. Until then, I am just too busy.

This is called Adult Problem-Solving.

This is called Adult Problem-Solving.

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Adult Problem-Solving Part 2 featuring Brady McTeague.

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This is me riding on the back of a 5th grader. We were playing a game in which I had to jump on her back repeatedly for 20 minutes. What a sweet child. I dread the day she becomes a teenager.

The other day my principal asked me to feed the school tarantula, Scarlett. I had bought crickets two weeks prior for Scarlett’s meals. On the first day, I happily fed her singing, bouncing crickets. But two weeks later, when I opened the cabinet where the crickets were, I smelled the worst smell I’ve ever smelled. I dumped the cricket carcasses toward Scarlett and watched as maggots crawled all over them. For real though, where do maggots come from? Do they just smell out stink and find it? Do they appear out of nowhere? That was about as much as I could take. I hope Scarlett’s okay. But tarantula care is not on my list of skills. This was one of those I’m-dodging-the-problem situations. I jolted back to my office to find hand sanitizer. I owe Scarlett a true adult effort on Monday–I’m still working on it.

One of the most dichotomous things about becoming an adult is knowing the urgency of our world’s problems. It’s amazing to feel empowered and knowledgeable and powerful enough to do something about them but also nearly crippling to realize the gravity of the state we’re in. More on this in another blog.

Overall, adulting is hard. And spending my days with children, it is not lost on me that youth is wasted on the young. I can hear my Aunt Kathy saying, though, that becoming an adult is certainly better than the alternative.

So here I am. On the crest of 30. I’ve learned that being an adult does not require one to totally “grow up.” I’m denying my farts, dropping it low to “Apple Bottom Jeans,” and pondering everything, except VALIC. I’m heavily involved. I’m doing the most. And I’m still learning. It’ll be okay.

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9 thoughts on “Teach Me How to Adult (or don’t)

  1. Have you ever seen the silly book titled “Adulting”. I sent one to Karen. Actually, I am still working on “Adulting”- when I am done working on it, I’ll die the next day.

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  2. I too don’t like to use the word “busy” when I describe my day…sounds so out of control, chaotic. I have said “full” but I really like “involved!” Thanks for the enlightenment AND for mentioning me…I’m beginning my 15 minutes of fame at noon. Not enough people are up and reading this before 8AM!!
    You’ll always be a kid at heart – another of your wonderful attributes.

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  3. I have lots of friends who read and enjoy your blog. Mary Schulte mentioned it last week, you are read far and wide! So, please keep writing funny, interesting, thoughtful and sometimes sad stories, no matter how “involved ” you become, we need our weekly dose, and love the pictures too. Man is your husband good looking 😉!

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  4. Not only am I 34 and no where close to “adulthood” in most senses of the word, but I can barely figure out how to make comments on your blog, which is why I text you and tell you that I really enjoy them, or I forget and just tell you in my head. Also LOVE the shout out to VDB!! My family would be proud. #SchoolShoesForLife

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  5. I wish I could guide you toward adulthood but I’m still trying to get there myself. And to me, farts are one of the great pleasures in life. I live for the times I’m on a crowded elevator and can let go with a SBD one. You should have your mother teach you – in all our years together I’ve never heard her fart. LOL, D

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  6. In the aforementioned book Adulting, I learned a very important lesson: always buy toilet paper in bulk. It doesn’t expire and you will never stop needing it.

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  7. There are several life tenets to which I ( and many) subscribe. This one sits between “getting started is half done” and “for example is not proof.” It is this: When you want something done, ask a busy person.

    And this, to Richard P: If true that farts are one of the great pleasures in life, Buster (our dog) experiences pleasure maybe 70% of every day. It sounds like zippers and it just goes and goes, all day, all night. He’s prolific! And proud.

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