The Number One Rule of Adulthood

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“Daddy,” he begins, in between chews of his chicken nuggets, “today you broke the number one rule of being an adult.” He nonchalantly chomps his food, while his eyes make and retain eye contact with mine. I wonder if he sees the trillion questions behind my eyes that his seemingly simple statement has provoked. Does my son know the number one rule to being an adult? If so, where did he learn it? Will he share it? Do I know it?

Wait a minute. He’s five; don’t jump to conclusions, I remind myself, calming the sprinter speed brain activity.

“Really?” I ask, leaning closer to him. He leans closer to me as well, mimicking my movement.

“Yep,” he responds, reaching for his apple juice box. “Yes, you did.”

“What did I do?” I fake concern.

“You had fun today,” he finally answers. “Adults are not supposed to have fun because they work all the time.”

My son is a sage I think to myself as I inhale his reasoning. Observant observation of the adult world.

“What did I do?” I probe.

He then begins to recount my climbing through the indoor jungle gym-esque park we visited a couple of hours earlier that evening. He laughs when he shares my squeezing through the foam covered ringers and battling the hanging punching bags. Most importantly, he smiles when he thanks me for playing in the gym structure with him.

A few years ago, there was the movie, Baby Geniuses, in which babies at age two learn how to talk and in doing so forget the universal language, which made them geniuses. I believe there is something that children lose as they grow in our society. Their innocence, their wonder, and their dreams are mishandled, shhh’ed, and spooked out of them. As a result, many brilliant ideas are lost; many dreams are buried deep inside, never to shared again in fear of being attacked by the pervasive dream killers throughout our culture. It pains me to think that my son views adulthood as a time when not having fun is seemingly required; that’s not something to which he can look forward.

Are you having fun as an adult? If no, why not?

What would you do/who would you be if failure was not an option?

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