“Daddy, I can’t wait to be a grown-up.”
“Oh yeah. Why’s that?”
“Because grown-ups can do whatever they want.”
Such a declaration is worthy of Alanis Morissette considering that, at the time she said it, Jellybean was snuggled up on the couch watching “Wreck it, Ralph” while eating a popsicle and coloring Cinderella’s ball a resplendent shade of purple. Meanwhile, I’m cooking dinner to her specifications, cleaning out the guinea pig’s cage while the noodles boil and unloading the dishwasher.
“Trust me,” I said, trying not to sound bitter, “being a grown-up is way overrated. I’d trade places with you in a heartbeat.”
Were this 1985, and I was Kirk Cameron (my spitting image), the room would spin, a Tears for Fears song — “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” perhaps — would play as Jellybean and I switched bodies. After which much awkward hilarity, and a few valuable life lessons, would ensue.
Instead, the only thing that happened was that I burned the grilled cheese sandwich.
But the premise survived.
“So if you were a grown-up, what would you do?” I asked.
“Whatever I wanted to,” Jellybean answered as if she’d been waiting her whole life for just this question. “I wouldn’t take a bath. Or wash my hands. I’d stay up late and wouldn’t go to school. I would pay someone to clean up after me and read me books and play with me.”
She continued her wishlist, but I was taking a trip down memory lane back to a time when someone else made my car payments, the money I made from working 12 hours a week at Dairy Queen went to cruising around Putt-Putt and buying that new Alice in Chains CD.
There were no holes in my underwear. Food magically appeared in the fridge and the only stress in my life was worrying about getting busted buying cigarettes out of the machine in the Shoney’s bathroom.
I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up either. I was also a moron.
Granted, there are a few advantages to being a grown-up: I can stay up as late as I want. However, I desperately wish that someone would make me go to bed early. I can buy beer — although I can’t drink one whenever I want because drinking at work is frowned upon. I have money … for three days before all my bills come due.
But being a kid? That would be more awesome than actually being Kirk Cameron (I mean, sure “Growing Pains” was cool, but then you’d have to do all those “Left Behind” movies.)
Now don’t misunderstand, I’m talking about being a kid, not a teenager. I would go through that nightmare again for nothin’.
You know the best thing about being a kid? The food. Kids can eat pretty much whatever they want — save for crack rock and Pixie Sticks — and never really pay for it. Even fat kids will probably hit a growth spurt. Plus, kids are cheap to feed. When was the last time you saw an “Adults Eat Free” sign?
Jellybean and I were in bed watching “PowerPuff Girls” when she snapped me out of my revelry.
“Daddy, are you gonna brush your teeth?”
“No, I’ll skip it tonight.”
“See … I can’t wait to be grown-up.”
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.