What does it mean to be an adult? Does it mean responsibility? Morality? Logical reasoning? Maturity? Politeness? Maybe some, or all, of these things.
I painted my fingernails bright purple the other day and had the most terrifying thought after I was finished: “Oh man, I’m too old for this.” But what does that mean? How does one “be an adult”? I thought I used to know, but once I started thinking about it, I really couldn’t come to a conclusion. So, I thought, let’s start backwards: how does one “be a kid”?
Kids and the iPad, or How to Raise Technologically-Advanced Barbarians
A friend of mine posted a Facebook status about two kids comparing their iPads. They were nine. My eyes, like yours may be doing now, bugged out slightly, and my cynic lobe of my brain went, “GHWAAA?” What in god’s name does a nine year old need an iPad for? Really, I’m serious. Can anyone suggest a possible necessity here? Even offer me something that the iPad does that a laptop or a video game system does not do, and I can at least maybe go with that. But, from where I’m sitting, this looks like another case of parents who don’t want to interact with their offspring, so they let technology take care of that for them. I’m so excited to see what today’s nine year olds are going to accomplish as world leaders in two decades with their expert and adept Angry Birds skills. Can you kill eight round, green pigs hiding behind glass, stones, and wood with a single bomb bird? Yeah, thought so. So last century.
But the bigger issue here, in my opinion, is the fact that nine year olds get everything they want. When I was nine, there were things my parents said ‘no’ to. If I was nine now, you can bet your ass I wouldn’t be getting an iPad. In fact, I’m twenty-two now and if I told my mom I was thinking about buying an iPad for $500 and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it exactly, I know the look that would cross her face:
<– Or something like that. And it wouldn’t even be her money.
I guess the crux of this part of my rant is that parents let their kids do, say, and act whatever and however their tiny, yet-to-mature brains decide, with absolutely no input from the parents. Sorry, but you don’t beg your child to stop acting like a tiny barbarian. No, you tell it, and if it doesn’t listen, you take some sort of action to discipline it, whether that means a stern talking-to or an ass-whooping. A half-hearted, “Honey, would you please stop pulling your sister’s hair?” or “Sweetheart, could you not pee in Grandma’s shoes?” isn’t going to cut it. This kind of “discipline” (if one can call it that) basically teaches kids to ignore the reasonable voice because they can. When you use a reasonable/logical voice to discipline a child and then take no action to back it up, you wind up with kids who only respond, for the rest of their lives, to people screaming at them, and sometimes not even that. But where does that leave us when we have to act like an adult?
The Debt Ceiling and 535 Overgrown Babies
As you probably know–because, let’s face it, doom-sayers abound–the nation is in a crisis regarding the national debt ceiling. Republicans and Democrats are kicking and screaming in order to get their
ideological position validated. On The Daily Show recently, Jon Stewart compared President Obama to the incensed father figure of the childish Congress, lecturing his fellow politicians on the importance of seriousness, compromise, and to quit “playing politics.”
Hearing about the debt ceiling and watching Eric Cantor & Co. essentially stamp their feet and throw a hissy fit like a four year old whose mother won’t buy it a candy bar at the grocery store checkout causes me to wonder: if I’m twenty-two and can effectively compromise with others, what the hell is wrong with these 40, 50, and 60-somethings in Congress? Why do they insist on acting like whiny, stubborn teenagers who think their curfew is inappropriately early? Perhaps because their parents tried to reason with them instead of telling them to clean their rooms, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We’ve raised a generation that finds itself utterly incapable of listening to logic or venturing to compromise on an issue.
This brings me to a larger point. In America, adults don’t act like adults. They act like overgrown babies. This is evident in a number of weird phenomena: Dads getting in fist fights at their kids’ sporting events, politicians sending pictures of their dicks to young women on the internet, women apparently murdering their toddlers in order to ‘party more,’ as well as the larger and more expansive attitude that the rules just don’t apply to me (whether this means sports stars taking steroids to cheat their way to success or people driving drunk and wondering why they’re getting their licenses taken away).
So, why do people in the great middle age of life continue to wonder why their kids and their kids’ kids have no respect for authority? Why they refuse to obey the rules? Why they’re greedy, stingy, hissy fit-thowing, kicking, screaming, spitting, whining hellspawn in the shape of cute and small children? They shouldn’t wonder, they should just look in the mirror.
So what does it mean to be an adult in America today? I guess it means being a kid. And in honor of entering/reentering childhood, I’d just like to say:
Hey, mom, I’m gettin’ me an iPad!