Within the months of this May and upcoming June, my daughter will have gone to her junior prom and my son would’ve graduated from senior high school, which if I come to think of it, makes me feel pretty old.
I remember that when I was of prom and senior high school age, I had this impression that my parents were old people who already had life figured out. After all, having your kids graduate high school and move on to university is already peak adulting and after having managed to exist and take care of a family unit for so long, it is only natural for people my age to be sensible adults by now. The funny thing is, I never thought it would happen to me so soon and that coming to this stage in life would take me by surprise.
It’s pretty obvious that this middle-aged dude is still denial when it comes to being defined as technically old, because although I’m at this point in my life when I know my priorities and have shed most insecurities, I still don’t think I’ve got it figured out. I still have this impression that everyone my age, with the exception of a few, is still faking it till we make it. With that comes the shocking realization that that my parents, when they were my age now, were probably just as clueless as I am now. It turns out we are all just figuring this out as we go along, doing the best we can with what we have.
The funny thing about adulating is that we don’t learn it in school. We only learn from those who have gone before us, if we were observant enough, or if they are generous enough to share their lessons with us. This is where having good role models helps a lot, because they show us how they did it, and we can certainly learn from both their successes and mistakes. The sad part is that for those without any role models, that role goes to Netflix by default.
There have been many comments that the educational system needs to do more to prepare our youth for life and adulating in general, as our schools don’t teach us how to do taxes, manage finances, or how to change a flat tire. Interestingly, it also doesn’t show us how to take care of a human, from birth to high school, and beyond, probably relying on instinct to get us through those life challenges.
However, while I agree that a high school subject on adulting matters and outlooks would be helpful for a lot of young people who don’t have role models, it doesn’t really seem like the only solution to an age-old problem because most of the things we need to learn as we become adults can’t actually be taught in a classroom and have to be acquired through experience. So, while a high school elective on taxes, DIY home and automobile repairs, home network troubleshooting, digital security, and emergency skills like properly administering CPR and the Heimlich maneuver would probably be helpful, we will still have to go through adulting as it is meant to be experienced: first hand, through good old fashioned trial and error.
My life milestones that are approaching in the next couple of weeks have made me think about how I have coped with adulthood up to this point. Now that I come to think of it, it has dawned on me that while formal education has played a role on what I am now capable, there are still so many things to discover and learn from life as we go through this journey, and aging doesn’t automatically mean you become smarter or better.
Growing older and looking back, I see the value of common sense and common decency, two things that are not explicitly taught in any school. These are lessons we learn from quality upbringing, emulating it from role models in our lives. Whether they do it deliberately or not, parents and parent-figures shape lives profoundly, with the good ones turning their wards into decent adults who may not know exactly what to do, but at the very least have a good idea of where they should be going.
My wife and I would naturally like to think that we are doing a good job, as adults and as parents. The funny thing is the only way we can find out definitively is if to wait another 20+ years, to see how our kids do in life and how their own kids (aka my grandkids) turn out, which is a totally different set of milestones set in the distant future, which I cannot bear to imagine yet.
But for now, in the face of major milestones, it is always a good feeling to be facing it without too much worries and a sense of pride in what we have accomplished so far, and what the future holds, knowing that all the hard work we have put in over the past decades are slowly but surely bearing fruit.*