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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Adulthood (07/30/09)

TITLE: Ramblings from the Mother of an Eighteen-Year-Old
By Sheri Gordon


So I’m wondering…who was it that decided when a kid turns eighteen, they somehow, miraculously, become an adult? I mean, honestly now, who in their right mind believes this to be true? Certainly not anyone who has actually raised one of these kids…er, adults.

Being totally skeptical, I decided to sneak into my son’s room at 11:54 p.m., the night before his eighteenth birthday, to personally observe this amazing adulthood feat. I watched as the red illuminated numbers ticked over minute by minute. 11:55. 11:56. Anticipation built rapidly. This was a miracle I did not want to miss.

“What are you doing?” I jumped at the sound of my husband’s voice.

“Shh. I’m watching our son become an adult.” 11:57.

“You’re what?”

“Watching our son turn into an adult. You can stay if you want, but be quiet…I don’t want to miss anything.”

My husband crossed his arms and leaned against the doorjamb. He wasn’t watching our son, however, instead he was looking at me with somewhat of an odd look, like maybe something had fallen out of my robe. Checking to make sure I was decently covered, I glanced at the clock—11:58—and resumed staring at our son.

“In less than two minutes our little boy will officially enter adulthood, where he will be an all-wise, all-knowing, able-to-handle-anything adult. Isn’t this exciting?”

11:59. 12:00. Nothing. Well, maybe the snoring got a little louder. Was that all? The only evidence of our son entering adulthood was that he magically attained a man’s snore? But, wait…“they” told me everything would change once he turned eighteen. And boy was I ever going to find that out in the next few weeks.

For instance, did you know the school can no longer talk to me about my son’s grades or even tell me if he is ditching classes? I cannot schedule an appointment for his teeth cleaning, and the insurance company will not discuss a declined payment for our visit to the emergency room when he hopped a fence and ripped open his finger.

This whole “becoming an adult” process baffles me. I’m a college graduate with a degree in business who is still perplexed when it comes to reconciling insurance statements with bills from the doctor’s office. Yet, somehow, as of the day he turned eighteen, our son is supposed to be able to figure this out for himself, including being able to have an intelligent conversation with an individual who couldn’t care less what his situation is, only that she won’t talk to me because my son is now eighteen and has to handle this matter himself. Overlooking the minor fact that he has no job and is still a dependent on our insurance, and that if she actually wants to receive any part of the payment due she is eventually going to have to deal with me since I am the keeper of the checkbook.

Studies show that the human brain is not fully developed until sometime in the early twenties. And interestingly, but not surprising to any of us who have raised teenagers, the last part of the brain to develop is the part involved in rational decision making. Now isn’t that a hoot?

Armed with this information—not really, but it sure seemed that way—my eighteen-year-old “adult” son set out to personally prove the validity of this specific scientific study. For reasons known only to him, he thought it would be a good idea to light off a sparkler…in the middle of the kitchen! Mouths agape, too stunned to speak, my husband and I stood paralyzed as this “adult” actually lit the end of the sparkler. We continued to watch in amazement as little bits of fire went shooting in a multitude of directions…inside the house! When the sparkler grew in intensity, this young man with the as-yet-to-be-developed-rational-decision-making part of his brain, realized he may have made a mistake. So, with a stick of shooting fire in his hand, he ran out the backdoor—which involved sparks of fire flying onto the carpet and an antique wooden desk.

At the conclusion of his sparkler spectacle, our son calmly walked back inside, and we calmly, yes calmly, asked him what in the world would possess him to do that. His answer? “What? Nothing bad happened. I had it all under control.”

So, the question begs to be asked again. Who in the world decided eighteen year olds should be classified as adults?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Gregory Kane08/07/09
A cogent argument for restoring the age of maturity to 21. And to think that they can get married and produce offspring!
Loren T. Lowery08/07/09
This was so tongue-in-cheek funny. I can't help but think that that antique wooden desk with the burn marks will someday be a real marker for this young man's coming of age. And the concluding question asked by the narrator, must be, I'm sure, a rhetorical one.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/08/09
I loved this humorous account of a mother's view of 18 year olds as adults. I was there once, and I remember: it's not happening overnight, Dear.
Jan Ackerson 08/08/09
I appreciate you writing this story.
Helen Dowd08/10/09
"the as-yet-to-be-developed-rational-decision-making part of his brain,"...I LOVED this. How well put!...Whether 18, as in the case of your son, or 19, as in my case (depends on where you live, when one becomes an adult). I think the wisest thing, and one you mentioned, is that the brain is not fully developed until into the 20's. I think the "old fashioned" rule of "21" being declared the legal age of majority has its merits...But as some would say, one is an adolescent from age 12 to age 25...So, and 18--or 19-year-old still has a lot of growing up to do...Helen
Ada Nett08/11/09
Written from the wisdom of true, experienced adulthood perplexed at how the world declares "adulthood" by the number of years a "child" has lived...go figure. I laughed at at the mom sitting there watching the clock and waiting for her son to transform into an adult!
Jackie Wilson08/12/09
Well written, tongue-in-cheek commentary. Enjoyed this immensely.