I well remember saying, "I can't wait til I'm old enough to be on my own! To be able to come and go as I please, eat what I want, say what I want, live where I want, live as I want, do what I want..."
...pay my own insurance, make a car payment, make a house payment, scrimp and save for groceries, try to make ends meet...
WHAT WAS I THINKING????
'Coming of Age' actually happens at various times in a person's life and manifests itself in totally differing attributes depending on the currently desired goals or needs.
As a baby I watched those two bigger babies wondering, "How do they do that tall thing when they move around and their hands aren't still on the floor too?" I tried and tried much to the giggly delight of those bigger babies who were always cooing, "Her's my pesshus widdle fing"...why DO they insist on talking to me like I don't have a brain? Don't the simpletons realize that if they keep doing that I'm going to think that's how I'm supposed to speak? Anyway, apparently even in diapers, I digress...I'd hear them assure me when I fell down on my pooply padded bottom that I'd be able to walk when it was time, when I came of age.
I did finally make those first few tentative steps.....and then they were always fussing at me for walking places I wasn't supposed to go. It was then that I began to create my list of things to do when I eventually found myself free and on my own. Item number one: Do as I please, don't hold me back!
I watched my brother go off to kindergarten and come home each day with things he had made, I remember most vividly at Christmas when he made a Santa with an apple, toothpicks, and marshmallows. He always had pictures he had glued, and papers with strange lines on them. Oh how I longed for my time. He hated kindergarten though, cried every day when he had to go, so when I came of age, my mother decided not to send me. Item number two on the list: I'm going to kindergarten if I'm 100 years old!
As a grade school child I desired to choose my own clothes, something NOT out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog. Someday, I'd go to a real mall, to a real store where you tried things on and bought soft pretty clothes instead of plaid skirts and blazers and turtlenecks so that you looked like a miniature version of your mother.
In high school my thoughts still lay with clothing, the coming into the time when knee socks were replaced by pantyhose, and skirts were above my knee. Sears and Roebuck still oppressed this basic need although that first large bush beyond my house was the goal. That's where the skirt got rolled up in a big bunch at the waist and the knee socks got pulled off to reveal the stockings borrowed from the bottom of my mother's chest of drawers. I never forgave my neighbor for cutting down my hiding place that warm spring day.
Then came boys! I had to wait for that magic number 16 to allow my adolescent desires for companionship with the opposite sex to begin. My coming of age to date coincided with my first pair of my OWN jeans, not my brother's hand me downs. I almost had it all, I was at the very least getting there!
My coming of ages came more quickly in this period...driving, graduating, college, jobs, marriage, children...they came so fast and furious I barely had time to savor the pleasures of each step in my life, each rite of passage, each coming into 'my own'. Of greatest memory to me is my wait for that first 'legal' drink, and finding myself pregnant when I came of age, unable to season my milk with kahlua, much less relish the satisfied smirk that came from slamming your ID down on the table when you were carded.
You reach a standstill at that point they call 'middle age', although with modern medicine and lifestyles being what they are, middle age gets defined in higher numbers as time moves by. By today's terms I'm a long way off, and intend to stay there. I'll gladly forgo any more 'comings' in order to thwart a few of the 'goings' that accompany such an event.
But, it's at this period when you've pretty much gotten yourself where you want to be, you've acquired a modicum of knowledge, a good grouping of possessions, a sense of who you are, and where you want to go from here.
So what's next on my 'coming of age' list? I suppose retirement, despite the fact that they keep moving that to an older and older age to keep me from getting the second thing on my new list; Social Security benefits. Yes, the 'golden' years...they call them that because we'll all be running around in yellowed DependsŪ undergarments. But, at least I'll be running around still chasing my one elusive dream.
I want to go to kindergarten.