Growing Up Grown


You know it’s funny, the passages of life and the many rites that accompany these passages. There is the ritual of bah mitzvah, the debutante ball, the high school prom, the 18th birthday and too many others to name. Of these, for me and parents like me, the 18th birthday is probably the most traumatic. Oh, I’m not referring to my own, although I’m sure there were similarities back in the day, but my son’s.

The day before that day started out like any other day before it. Someone is well aware that it is the eve of something big and someone else is totally oblivious to the magnitude of the rapidly approaching “witching hour” which will spell some miraculous change. The previous seventeen years and 364 days had been spent mostly in a struggle to prove that parents were not born full grown parents. Its hard to believe but once there had been life, laughter and dreams in those withered and time tested grown up frames. I mean all teens know parents were born people who knew little or less about anything and everything that their children, the “fruits of their looms,” would come into contact with during these formative years because, after all, parents grew up grown up.

Parents of teenagers read in the paper, hear on the radio and see on the 6’clock news all the things they can expect from their own teenagers because as they say, all parents are all alike. No parent has ever been a teenager with all the pressures that come with that state of mind. All teens are smarter, faster, cuter, more worldly and wise, than any parent could ever imagine. No parent has ever experienced peer pressure, acne, raging hormones, the desire to have everything from girls/guys and tattoos, to guitars/guns and body piercings. The absurdity, to think that the emotions inspired by Tupac/Biggy, Petey/Puffy, Mariah/Mary J., Martin/Malcolm, Dr. Dre/Mike J., could ever have been experienced by a parent.

At dawn, the morning of that fateful day, my son stood in the doorway of our bedroom and made an official announcement proclaiming his freedom, or something of the sort. After being startled out of several good years, I woke my wife, repeated the boastful announcement to her and watched her calmly roll over, pull the covers over her head and go back to a sound sleep mumbling something like, “what’s wrong with him.” Apparently, we as parents had missed something. At 18 does hair start to grow in odd places?, does the average kid become the newest billionaire?, is that elusive honest politician finally found and elected?, is the secret of life revealed to the 18 year old and only the 18 year old?! What, pray tell, What! To this day, I still don’t know!!

I do know that one incident during this transitional period gave me a reason to pause and wonder. I know that at some point after your teen gets that first job, in order to help them make the transition, it is apparently the grown up’s responsibility to ask them for a little something something on the living expenses. Now this can be a delicate and awkward situation. If the teen decides against moving out at that very moment, these funds are given grudgingly. It’s not so much that the family stability will be lost without this assistance, or that this aid is some type of lifelong fee, but the additional income is useful in securing some of the provisions of life and is supposed to let the teen know that everything in life has it’s price. Adulthood, independence, responsibility and all the other little things that make life worth living come at a cost and that cost is not always financially driven. Sometimes it’s just life’s little way of letting some folks know, that all parents didn’t “grow up grownup!”


When my son turned 19 I woke him up and asked him what was the difference between 18 and 19. I watched him calmly roll over, pull the covers over his head and go back to a sound sleep mumbling something like, “what’s wrong with YOU?!”

To be continued…………..

Growing Up Grown by Doug HOLLOWAY

© Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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