Adulthood: An Enigma

“We’ll all be fine
Disgraceful under pressure
Don’t tow the line
You’re just at an awkward age
Don’t cry – Just at an awkward age”

~ Joe Jackson Band, Awkward Age

In the car, driving home from daycare, the son told me:

“I’m still three years old.” Holding up his middle finger, ring finger and pinky.

“That’s right, but not for long. It’s your birthday soon, Schnabeltiger (≈ beak-tiger).”

He didn’t answer anything, he just started crying.

“Oh sweetie, what is it?”

“I want to stay three years forever!”

Peter Pan? Dorian Gray? Toddler-age-crisis?

“Oh dumpling! But why?”

“I like being three.”

One part of me felt extremely relieved: he enjoys his life and his childhood, I’m doing a good job as a mum.

I don’t remember what it was like being three. I just know that while growing up, I always waited for that moment of transformation. You know, the moment when you finally are a grown up.

Somehow, that moment never came along. I mean, of course I grew up. Of course I am not a child anymore (besides my inner child that I sensibly preserve). But I never had the

❗  AHA•  ❗ moment of thinking “Now I’m an adult! So that is what it feels like!”.

There obviously are these moments of change. The awkward transformations – mentally and physically – during teenage. For a woman, the monumental event of your first period… ah, awful. Pimples, the braces, hairs growing in weird places… you name it! It truly is an Awkward Age.

The 14th birthday, when they tell you in school: “Congratulations, by the German law, now you are allowed to have sex.” even though that might be something you do not feel ready for. And it definitely is something you do not want to discuss with your middle-aged, chubby, balding, male biology teacher. The 16th birthday when you realize that you legally are allowed to drink alcohol, but

a) it tastes awful   😯

b) it makes you do even more awkward things than when you’re sober   😳

c) you still don’t feel like an adult   😐

d) there’s basically no bar that wants you in, so what’s the point of drinking at all?!   😕

Then for me – I know, this is a very individual thing – the moment I didn’t want to be part of the mainstream crowd anymore. Hiding behind pale make-up and black eyes, dressed all in black, hair dyed ruby-red… well, let’s just say, only in retrospect I realized I basically changed one uniform for another. I desperately wanted to be treated “like an adult” but still acted far from it. And finally, I grew out of this, too.

After that, at the beginning of my twenties, there was this huge change: immigrate, get pregnant, get married. Another physical transformation: having a baby growing in you. And the mental transformation: I’m a mother now. We bought a house and did all the adult stuff like going to the bank to get a loan, paying taxes, use a credit card…

But still: no definable adult-aha-moment. Is this ever going to happen? Well, maybe adulthood is just something that happens to you along the way…



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