My baby turns 21


“That horrifying moment when you’re looking for an adult, but you realize you are an adult. So you look around for an older adult. An adultier adult. Someone better at adulting than you.”

This is honestly one of my favorite quotes about being a “grown-up.” I have been a fully fledged adult for almost two-thirds of my life now and I STILL feel like I’m just making things up as I go along. On any given day I really want to ask my mom.

I’ve heard it say that I may be an adult, but I’m really more of an adult cat. Someone probably should take care of me but I can sorta make it on my own.

Weirder still is that I hardly feel adult some days and then my “babies” are all grown too? It’s a blast and I’m glad to enjoy who they are and where they go. Still, it’s weird.

Baby turns 21

There is something big and seemingly important about your baby’s 21st birthday. It’s not just that the state in which you reside has deemed him able to legally ingest alcohol. It is that suddenly he is definitely, without a doubt, most certainly a bona fide grown-up person.

Apparently in most states around here, one can be old enough to vote, marry, sign contracts, and go to war, but the ability to order a beer is still a few years out of reach. There is irony in being government trained to disarm a nuke but still not old enough to have wine with dinner? I know of a couple married with a child and they still can’t have champagne to celebrate.

It’s not that alcohol is necessary for happiness, it’s just odd what the government decides is — and isn’t — part of being an adult.

Regardless of the liquor laws, I’m not one of those parents who pretend that 18 “isn’t really an adult.” Eighteen is most certainly an adult. You can vote, sign contracts, and make the decision to slam out and live on your own legally, if not financially.

Still, most find that 18-year-olds are kind of “adults in training.” Eighteen felt a lot like childhood — with voting rights, if I recall.

Nineteen was probably one of my favorite ages. I remember a sweet sense of freedom tempered by just enough responsibility to have a paycheck. That was a good year. As near as I remember anyway.

By 20, it was becoming clear that working and going to school was a lifestyle and not a fluke. My love of late nights began to wane at this age, as I realized the joy of being well rested when the alarm went off at 6.

When are you adult?

I recently read a meme that said “when will I know I am an adult? The Answer: When you have a favorite spatula.”

This is not untrue. I didn’t feel grown-up when I bought my first, second, or even third car. (I had a poor track record with sporty, but unreliable, automobiles). I felt very grown-up when I bought my first major appliance.

I can still remember that Frigidaire refrigerator. It was a big lemon, but, by golly, it was all mine. It was $700. A princely sum in 1994.

I would buy many, many major appliances in the ensuing years but none so memorable as that first one.


BoyWonder has, by any measure, been an easy, mature young person. A friend says he was “born 40.” I don’t have any stories of his wild escapades because he generally does not have them. Or if he has (I hope he has), he’s so good at them that I won’t hear about them until he’s 40 — if ever.

Today he is an adult. He has been for years, but this is kind of the “Adultier Adult” time of life.

He’s attending college and living at home, but I can already sense a time when he will want his own place with his own rules.

He insists he’s going to buy this house. I guess Mr. Wonderful and I should be looking for our own place?

Today my son is 21. He hasn’t bought a major appliance yet, but he is now old enough to buy a beer. This means he can pick up wine for his mama (score!).

We celebrated at a nearby restaurant and he ordered … a soda. I think that’s quite wise. Sometimes the true sign of maturity is knowing when you want a drink — and knowing when you don’t.


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



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