Obviously, growing up, we all have ideas of what adulthood will be like, and some of those things end up turning out to not be things at all. Like, oh, shit, when I grow up, I’m going to have to pay bills and it’s going to be terrible. Except that’s not how it is at all. I mean, it’s not like bills are fun and it’s not like there aren’t 800 things I’d rather spend that money on, but the standard moan and groan about the adult responsibility of bills hasn’t so much come true. Sure, it would have sucked a lot to pay all of those bills when I was 14 or 15 or 16 because I had no money. At all. Because I was a child. Just putting gas in my car with my waitressing tips when it was less than $1/gallon seemed like the biggest chore, so obviously adding on shit like, I don’t know, electricity, seemed like the most enormous downer in the world. Ugh. Adults can’t do anything because all they get to do is pay bills. Two things I did not really factor in: one, I have more money now and paying bills, while not enjoyable, is not some life-ruining, adulthood-destroying burden. And two, I was kind of right. I don’t get to do anything now. Except it’s not that I don’t get to do anything. I don’t want to do anything. I just want to lay here quietly, and I’m entirely okay with that. A long time ago Swistle had this post (link) about how when we were kids, it was so puzzling that adults just wanted to sit around and talk to each other and HOLY SHIT COULD ANYTHING AT ALL BE MORE BORING except it turns out that children are actually a sort of idiot who are surprisingly incapable of predicting and understanding what adult versions of themselves will enjoy. Like lying around doing nothing. Children generally have no idea how much they’re going to love that and not really care all that much about paying bills.
Well, except surprise bills, but that’s a whole other thing. Did I mention Brinkley is going to the vet tomorrow? Surprise.
Anyway, there are these things like bills that turned out to just be a kind of normal fact of life that don’t really destroy it in the way I casually predicted. (Yes, I know there are people who can’t pay their bills.) And other things, like oh when I’m an adult, I will eat dessert after every meal, not just meals when my parents FEEL LIKE GIVING ME SOME BASED ON ABSOLUTELY INCOMPREHENSIBLE WHIMS. Except no, no, I don’t actually do that. Not because I hate dessert or because of some guilt-based issues around food or whatever. I just don’t want to. Small me did not anticipate that could even be a possibility. It’s there and you just don’t want to? Yeah, that’s not a thing, except it turned out to be one.
TO MY POINT (I assume you knew it was eventually coming). There are things that I just never in a million years could have anticipated would be a negative issue for adults. Things that as a child, not only would I never have disliked, but never could have even imagined it would become a problem sometime in the future. One of the major ones, the only one I can think of at the moment, actually, because my distaste is just SO STRONG it is blocking out everything else, is balloons. I cannot fucking stand balloons.
If we’re walking up to a store or something and someone is handing out balloons, I will try to find a different way to go in. I will say they’re for sale and I don’t have any money with me. I will say the person is taking them home to tie to his house so he can move somewhere nicer. It’s impossible to control my expression at the end of a birthday party or event when Penelope comes running out with her very own balloon. I will elbow a clown in the gottdanged throat if he so much as glances my way with his fistful of aggravation.
Growing up, I had no idea balloons were such a pain in the ass. There was this restaurant we went to when we were younger that always gave balloons to kids at the end of a meal, and there were three of us, and now that I’m an adult, I have a whole new perspective on those fun car rides home with three kids and three balloons in the back seat of a sedan. Oh, sure, bopping each other and bouncing them around and sucking out the helium was a blast, but now I can imagine it from the other side. “Hold your balloons. Hold your — HOLD YOUR BALLOONS. PULL THE BALLOONS DOWN. I can’t see around — shit! I can’t see around the balloons. GUYS YOU MUST HOLD YOUR BALLOONS DOWN. WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE IF YOU DO NOT CONTROL THE GODDAMN BALLOONS AND WE WILL GO TO HELL AND IT WILL SURELY BE FULL OF BALLOONS.”
And that’s if the balloon even makes it from Point A to Point Car. Never do I have such a death grip on Penelope’s fist as I do when she’s insisting on carrying her own balloon to the car. We are a fraction of a second from wailing heartbreak and I am on guard the entire way. I don’t know if you know this about four year olds, but they do not have the attention span required to keep their fists closed. Every step between us and the car is the potential for the whole rest of the day to be IRREPARABLY RUINED because the stupid balloon GOT AWAY and on top of that? Now we’ve littered. Double tragedy.
And if we get it to the car and we get it home without spinning out into a ditch due to obscured vision, then the balloon is IN MY HOUSE. High ceilings. Ceiling fans. DOGS. It’s either not going to last, which leads to drama, or it’s going to become a task for me, constantly requiring retrieval from this location or that location. Is there anyone among us who hasn’t had to form a long, sticky-ended poking device to rescue a balloon from the absolute most inconvenient location in the house? One that additionally requires perching precariously on something? I’m risking my life for $0.005 worth of latex.
And sometimes! You think you can wait for the kid to go to bed and then pounce on the balloon, usually by then half-deflated and hovering around corners to scare you shitless in the dark, because she has taken absolutely zero notice of the balloon for days, so you can get it in the trash without incident. Now, if you don’t make the absolutely ROOKIE IDIOT MISTAKE of leaving it on the top of the trash for the kid to discover the body in the morning (“J’ACCUSE, MOTHER. J’ACCUSE.”), then it’s a guarantee that tomorrow morning, first thing upon waking, she’s going to ask for that balloon for the delightful day of play she’s got planned out for the two of them.
I just had no idea. Growing up there was no way to know or predict that balloons were one of the most dreaded parenting ordeals on the planet. I guess a lot of things become clear as we get older, you know?