Got back from a weekend away to find the kitchen a mess. Darn it, Ed, I thought, pouring coffee into a slightly grimy cup. When he got home I suggested he clean up and he said he would.
Now that I think about it, mess is a fairly usual condition for the kitchen. Every now and then -- once a week, or maybe a bit less often -- I clean it, and I think of that state -- the clean state -- as normal. But I am fooling myself. One or two days a month my bank account is healthy. One or two days a month I go for a long run and feel fit. One or two days a month my kitchen is clean. But if I spend twenty-eight days out of thirty as a scrambling poor out of shape slob, then maybe that's who I am. Hmm.
Hang on. I got sidetracked there. I was going to talk about maturity. When are your kids grown up? That was my question. At what point do you simply have to recognize that they are mature responsible beings? When they are taller than you? Smarter than you? When they get a job? When you realize that you can't actually make do anything? When they leave?
None of these definitions quite does it for me. One I like has to do with routine tasks. Your kid is on his or her way to maturity when the job gets done when it needs to be done, and not because you ask for it to be done. I am not referring to chores. If your kid is supposed to make her bed every day and you tell her and you tell her and you tell her and then one day she makes her bed without being told, that's not maturity. That's resignation. But if she takes out the garbage because it's full -- that's a big step. If your kid returns the car with a full tank of gas -- that's a big step. If he washes the dishes because there aren't any left -- that's a big step.
By this definition Ed -- and now we are back to where I started -- is not quite mature. He's taller than I, and smarter, and he has a job, and it's been a while since I was able to make him do anything. But he did not clean the kitchen on his own. I had to tell him.
I don't know how mature I am. My bank account needs money. My body needs exercise. And I'm not doing all that much about it. Maybe I'll grow up one of these days.