Grown ups

September 21, 2013

blog_judy_coolsMoonlighting. A blog by By Judy Cools

Being a grown up has its perks. I can eat ice cream for breakfast if I want to, or have stuffed cabbage rolls every meal for a week straight. I can stay up too late, sleep in too late, or just forget about doing laundry if I don’t feel like it. I can go shopping without buying, and I can even try on beautiful (or crazy) clothes that I have no intention of buying.

I can refuse to answer my door. I can dye clothes in the washing machine. I can hang out on Facebook while cobwebs collect in the high corners of the room. And why can I do these things? Yep. I’m a grown up.

Being a grown up doesn’t have anything to do with age. It has to do with attitude. It’s an awareness of what might be at risk, and the willingness to deal with it if things go wrong. It’s acceptance of responsibility for one’s actions, and the open-eyed reality that there are trade-offs of good and bad, easy and complex, fun and practicality, in each and every decision we make – and we make thousands of them in any given day.

Ice cream for breakfast? What’s the worst that can happen? A headache, a blood sugar crash before lunch? If you’re willing to risk that, able to plan recovery options, willing to deal with that particular fallout with your choice of ice cream for breakfast, then go ahead!!

Most who are reading this column are not kids any more. Our eating habits are well established, and our vulnerability to spending the rest of our natural lives eating only ice cream for breakfast from here on out is just not a big threat. I doubt your world will collapse if you have ice cream for breakfast once in a while, and you might even get some impish fun out of it to start your day.

I used to worry about all those “should”s and “mustn’t”s. The older I get, the less important they are to me. I even remember my turning point. Years ago, I was reading an Ann Landers column where someone had written in to ask about the practice of cracking eggs into a bowl before using them, to check them. Ann’s reader said she’d been cracking eggs into another container for forty-some years and had never found a spoiled egg. She asked if Ann really felt it was necessary to keep checking eggs.

Ann’s answer, which I found really disappointing, was that yes, of course you need to check eggs because if an egg is spoiled, it will ruin whatever you drop it into. This answer just perpetuates the robotic action of checking eggs. It makes checking eggs a “should.”

A better answer would have been that a person can drop an egg directly into whatever they are willing to risk, if the egg should be a bad one. Are you willing to toss out a couple cups of flour and sugar if a bad egg ruins your cake batter? Then do it. Are you willing to throw away cups of vegetables, butter, bacon, a handmade crust, heavy cream, another five eggs, and 90 minutes of work if the last egg you throw into your quiche is bad? Those stakes are a little higher; might want to check those eggs.

The point here is that there is choice. Not strictly rules and shoulds and ought to’s. Grown ups don’t need a whole bucket of “should” because they have wisdom and experience, and can actually think their way into and out of a situation. Grown ups get to have choice because they are willing to accept and deal with the consequences of that choice. That is in a person’s character, and not in the passing of pages on a calendar. So… cream for breakfast? Bring it on.

© 2013, J. Cools

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