Back to the Future: The Grownup Club

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in — Deepak Chopra

When I was a child I thought grownups knew everything, they just weren’t telling. I also thought that when I grew up, I too would know everything. For that reason I looked forward to someday belonging to the Grownup Club. Then I would know what the grownups meant when they gave each other those strange looks that I judged to be a secret code, especially when I asked such important questions as: What are we all doing here (on Planet Earth)? Isn’t there someplace else we could go? Are we stuck here?

My mother said we were here because God had made us and put us here, that He also made the Earth to be our home. When I asked why this place and not some other, where things might make more sense, she looked off into the distance and shook her head. Since I knew my mother was already a member of the Grownup Club and that I would someday become a member too–growing up being the only requirement for membership, I assumed–I realized she was thinking up a fairy tale to tell me, which is the only way kids were allowed to learn important things. Since I already knew I’d be let in on the secrets once I was old enough to become a member of the Club, I told her to forget it (in my mind that is, otherwise I might be punished for sassing) and pretended to lose interest. I could see she was relieved.

That was okay because by the time I was sixteen, I knew much more than my mother. As a young adult I found out the Grownup Club, or at least the one my mother belonged to, had not kept up with the times–or else my mother’s membership had expired. The only way to learn anything now was to find the experts, so that’s what I decided to do. However, since none of them lived in our old neighborhood, I was forced to turn to books. Although most of the books by experts were written by the Old Farts who lived long ago, thankfully their language had improved a bit since biblical times.

(Of course my mother had a book by the biblical experts, called the Bible, which she said was written by God, but she admitted that although all the words in it came from God, men had actually penned it. On trying to read it I couldn’t help but wonder if they hadn’t gotten God’s words wrong. But since my mother said it was blasphemy to question the Bible, I realized this was yet another question I was not supposed to ask).

I found the experts hard going as they tended to answer questions I wasn’t asking and didn’t answer the questions I did ask. But my real problem came after I married and had my first child. I got a book by Dr. Spock on raising children as he was the known expert on the subject. Then I made a mistake of buying a book by another childcare expert (I don’t remember his name). The second book disagreed with everything in the first book and I ended up throwing both of them out. If the experts couldn’t agree, then how was I to know whom to believe?

What did other mothers do? I consulted some in the neighborhood but that also fell through when I learned there was an early potty-training trend going on. Mothers were potty-training their babies at the age of six months by running to put them on the potty when their little faces turned red. Then they gathered for coffee and bragged about their successes in potty-training their babies before they learned to walk (some were carrying them to the potty even earlier than six months old, implying their babies were geniuses).

This didn’t make sense to me because I figured a child should at least be able to walk to the potty before s/he was trained. All these mothers were doing was hurrying to catch the do-do. Which, of course, did save on diapers.

But my disillusionment had truly begun. I finally realized I couldn’t depend on other people to guide me and every time I found an expert about anything, another expert came along to disagree with the first one. It came to me that, as much trouble as it would turn out to be, I had no choice but to try to figure things out for myself. And hang the experts.

Now I know why my mother kept quiet. Who wants to admit to a kid there are things even the grownups don’t know. And that even when so-called grownups gain a bit of knowledge they just fight with each other over who’s right, and confuse people like me who are trying to understand.

At my age I know people expect me to act like a senior member of the Grownup Club, but by now I’ve entered my second childhood. I would not even join the Club if they asked me. In fact, when I see the long sad face of a Grownup, my first inclination is to whistle Dixie and thank God for my escape.

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