Thursday, 2 July 2015

Kidulthood: Summer at Home

“As a child I assumed that when I reached adulthood, I would have grown-up thoughts.” - David Sedaris

As children we can't wait to grow up, and as adults we wish we could grow down. Age 7, I sort of missed the point: wanting to grow up into a disco diva (with a very fetching hairstyle) but also to turn back time, 20 years before I was born, to the 70s. I'm in a similar confusing stage now, but one with less lycra. When I moved away from home to go to university, I felt like that made me a real adult: one that had to pay rent, buy my own food, do my own washing, and could go to bed whenever I wanted. Now, after living in London for 2 years, I'm home for the summer and I feel like I've regressed from a 'kind-of-sometimes-when-I-want-to-be-maybe-adult' to kidulthood. And it's kind of great, but also kind of guilt-inducing, confusing and weird. 

There are no bills, rent, and you don't even have to buy your own food

I always feel rich when I go home. I feel like I've got a lot of money to spend on stuff I want rather than stuff I need. Unfortunately this tends to make me poorer than ever because ASOS splurges are much more fun (and expensive) than Tesco splurges: I've always got more room in my wardrobe, but not always in my fridge. I know that when I wake up, there's always going to be milk for my cereal. My mum will probably have planned what we're going to have for dinner days ago, so I don't need to think/plan/worry about it. There are also good snacks. Always. And plenty of them. I can put the heating on if I'm cold without feeling guilty, or feeling like I have to consult my housemates and make sure we are all suitably cold enough to warrant spending money on warmth. There is no price on being at home: I'm not paying £17.67 per night to be there. So kidulthood sounds great, right? It is, until I remember that I am still paying rent and bills to live in a house where I only really spend weekends. I'm now paying rent, bills AND train fares. I feel disconcertingly reckless: the adult in me is only too conscious of all that money 'wasted'. The child in me doesn't care. I'm making the most of fun and friends in London AND in Sussex. 

You don't have to cook, clean, or do your own washing

I'm not a complete slob, promise, but the luxury of having other people to do things for you is fabulous. When my washing can just go in with the rest of the family's, and it makes no odds to make dinner for me as well as everyone else, it's a giant win-win for me. I don't feel too guilty about being lazy (because it doesn't make much difference, right...?) and I also don't really have to do any of the mundane, daily tasks for myself. In fact, I'm probably doing less now than I was as a teenager, when I properly lived at home. But there are chores. Remember chores? I usually bagsy helping with the dinner, because that's an easy one, I don't mind doing it, and I'm probably better at it than the boys. Chores are fine, until you remember that you can't really get out of them - not without feeling like a spoiled brat anyway. It's then that you nostalgically remind yourself of adult life, on your own, when you can do what you like, when you like. You know that you don't need to change your sheets EVERY week, and the lounge probably doesn't NEED to be hoovered. And you can always do something half-heartedly without your mum nagging you. 

All your friends are there, and it's like being at school all over again

Being at uni in London is weird because your friends live all over the place: at home (whether that's in London, Croydon, Buckinghamshire, or god knows wherever else), in some other borough the opposite side of London, or just somewhere that requires a billion tube changes. At home, it's great because they all live within 15 minutes of you. And you have a car - albeit one that share and have to reserve in advance. Suddenly your social life reverts back to picnics in the garden, going to your best friend's house just to watch Come Dine With Me with them, and popping over because you haven't seen their mum in a while. I feel so free, and more sociable and connected than I ever have since I've been at uni, being an adult. As a kid, however, you have people to answer to: will I be home for dinner? Can I be back by 8pm so someone else can use the car? I feel obliged to be home at a 'sensible' hour (I'm a granny anyway, so this doesn't really matter) and to let others know what I'm doing so they don't worry. This epitomises kidulthood: old enough to go off and do what you like, but young, and courteous, enough to let your Mum know what you're up to. 

It's just like a proper 'summer holiday'

Being at home, planning loads of things you're going to do such that you have exciting 'intentions' every day, but then actually only doing about half of them because sometimes you just need to spend a day (or 3 days) watching Love Island, catching up on OITNB or reading a yourself, is every summer holiday in a nutshell for me. Being at home only exacerbates that, because somehow you don't feel as guilty when you waste entire days; maybe that's because you can do it with your brother and then you've at least had some human contact. There are days where the only productive thing you've done is make a ground-breaking, new cereal combination but that is absolutely fine. After a couple of days like this (often consecutive...) I feel bad. I feel like I'm wasting potentially the last summer holiday I'll have, and that I need to do at least one grown up thing every day to make sure I don't completely regress and never achieve adulthood. Ever. This morning was a good one: my breakfast of cheerios, strawberries, fruit & fibre and malteasers (all mixed, obviously) was complemented by some daytime tv, cue Dinner Date. I followed this up with a shower (adult-like, because it was before 10.30), did some arts & crafts, and counteracted this by a quick gloss over the Unilever grad scheme. I feel like I winning at kidulthood. 

Kidulthood is hard for us all, whether we're 17 or 27. It's also a great time, and the last taste of the beauty of childhood. So whether you're a teenager, about to finish school, and battling with the teenager/responsible grown up complex; a student or graduate, home for the summer or moving back in with your parents; or even a middle aged man, divorced, and back at Mum's house for a bit (your time is more limited...) - revel in it. Appreciate being a kid for a little longer, don't dwell too much on adult responsibilities, because I figure there will be plenty of time in real adulthood to do that. Enjoy the weird combination - the confusion settles down after a while, and you just kind of go with it. 

“I believe that everyone else my age is an adult whereas I am merely in disguise. - Margaret Atwood 


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