When Children Have Grown Up

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Note: Erma Bombeck’s newspaper columns and books are irreplaceable in American humor and insight. I found this article in my files and wanted to share it.

One of these days you’re going to shout, “Wy don’t you kids grow up and act your age?” And they will. Or, “You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do and don’t slam the door.” And they will. You’ll straighten up the boys bedroom, neat and tidy. Bumper stickers discarded, spread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves, hangers in the closet, animals caged. And you’ll shout out loud, “Now I want it to stay that way.” And it will.

You’ll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn’t been picked to death. And a cake with no finger traces in the icing. And you’ll say, “Now there’s a meal for company.” And you’ll eat it alone.

You’ll say, “I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No pantomimes. No demolition crews. Silence. Do you hear?” And you’ll have it.

No more plastic table cloths stained with spaghetti. No more bed spreads to protect from damp bottoms. No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps. No more clothes pins under the sofa. No more play pens to arrange the room around. No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent. No more sand on the sheets, or poppy movies in the bathrooms. No more iron patches or wet knotted shoe strings or tight boots or rubber bands for pony tails.

Imagine lipstick with a point on it. No baby sitter for New Year’s Eve. Washing only once a week. Seeing a steak that isn’t ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap. No PTA meetings. No car pools. No blaring radios. No one washing her hair at 11:00 at night. Having your own roll of transparent adhesive tape. Think about it.

No more Christmas presents out of toothpaste and library paste. No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No more giggles in the dark. No knees to heal. No responsibility. Only a voice crying, “Why don’t you grow up?” And the silence echoing: “I did.”