Friday, January 20, 2012

When, exactly, did you become an adult?

Beth Kephart asked in her post today, "When, exactly, did you become an adult?"  Funny she should ask, I thought, as I dashed out the door before even reading beyond her title, which appears on the sidebar here, under "Blogs I read."  I had places to go and people to see, but now I'm home and have looked up what I wrote in 2006 about becoming an adult.  At the time, I was sixty-six years old, having been born in 1940.  (That's important to know when I mention 1960, okay?)  After reading this, you won't be surprised to hear that I still occasionally wonder what I want to be when I grow up.

Bits of Bonnie

When I started thinking about "becoming an adult," it seemed to me the first thing to consider was what makes a person an adult. Once there were initiations to pass, as when a boy joined the men on a hunt and killed his first "food." Once, a girl was considered an adult when she began to menstruate and could have children. I had my first period when I was twelve; did that make me an adult? I don't think so!

I married at eighteen; did that make me an adult? Apparently not. When we bought a house in early 1960, I was nineteen and my husband was twenty-five. He could sign the papers, but I could not ... because I was a minor. At that time the legal age was twenty-one, but that has fluctuated in my lifetime. Anyway, I had to go before a judge to get my "minority" removed. Then I could sign legal papers and be co-owner of our first house.

Did owning a house make me an adult? Apparently not. I couldn't vote in the 1960 election between Nixon and Kennedy ... or at least I assumed I couldn't vote ... because I was only twenty. A few years ago it occurred to me that maybe I could have voted after all, since officially my minority had been removed earlier that same year and I was "legally" an adult. But I didn't think of that until about 45 years too late.

When I was twenty, my twins were born; did that make me an adult? When people asked me how I managed, I would tell them, "I didn't know what to do with ONE, and I got TWO."

My father died in a traffic accident when I was twenty-four, and my widowed mother was in shock; so my 21-year-old brother and I had to arrange the funeral. Did that make me an adult?

Somehow, things keep happening and we keep going, doing whatever is necessary to cope. Maybe I became an adult at the point I was able to put the pieces together sufficiently to be able to say with confidence that I now knew my own mind and could give a satisfactory answer to the meaning of my life. If so (I wrote in late 2006), I became an adult only four or five years ago in my early sixties! And THAT, dear heart, is why my email is "emerging.paradigm" ... because I am emerging into my new way of being.

Am I an adult now? Maybe it depends on the day. Some days I feel like I'm in my second childhood.

Your turn

How would you answer the question?  When, exactly, did you become an adult?


Beth Kephart said...

wow. what a story you have lived, Bonnie.

It seems to me there is the stuff of a book here!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Thanks, Beth. We shall see.