So, now that I am no longer living in the house of my ancestors OR the halls of higher education, I like to think of myself as really-and-truly off on my own and a responsible adult. By rights, I feel I should be able to do a few of the things I’ve seen responsible adults do, because you know, there have to be a few perks to growing up, right? Ha-ha. About that. Turns out those things your parents seemed to just . . . roll with aren’t such a breeze after all. And learning how doesn’t have much to do with reaching a certain age.
Here are five I’ve noticed so far.
1) Making Rice Krispies Treats (All hail Kellogg! Or Post! Or . . . whoever it was that’s surely trademarked that name! Okay, I checked. It’s definitely Kellogg.)
Seriously. I did this and everything was fun and simple while I was putting butter and cereal and marshmallows into the pot. It got all melted together and gooey. It was awesome. But then the time came to move the giant glob from pot to shallow glass pan so it could harden. And that’s where things got tricky. Because the pot was large and heavy and had to be held with both my hands, but the Rice Krispies wouldn’t just slide out–they were too sticky. The pot was so hot that I couldn’t rest it on anything to free up one hand and use a spoon to help the glob out. I couldn’t let the pot cool off because then the glob would become cemented in there. I was trapped holding the pot above the shallow glass pan, unable to do anything but shake it furiously and inform it of my extreme displeasure. I ended up being forced to yell for help from the Random Boy, who I’d chased out of the kitchen earlier. The worst part is that I know my mother makes those treats without any aid whatsoever. How? HOW!?
2) Engage in Meaningful Activity after Coming Home from Work
My father is a teacher. Teaching is one of the most brutally taxing jobs on the planet. I tutor and that’s as close as I can get because the thought of attempting anything more terrifies me. Anyway, despite how difficult teaching is, my father would come home and do things. Play games, talk to us kids, grade our homework, take us out to eat, make fun of bad movies with us, etc.
I don’t teach: I tutor and wait tables. And I’m still on break from tutoring. So I waitress. Now, let me be the first to say that waitressing isn’t a difficult job. The basic drift of it goes like this:
Waitress: “What do you want to eat?”
Customer: “This and that.”
Waitress: “Okay, I’ll tell the kitchen to get right on that.”
Anythings besides that is garnish. Anyways, I get home from waitressing and I sit down in a chair and stare into space because I don’t have the energy to accomplish anything else. Half the time, I don’t even have the energy to change out of my uniform, which comes home smelling of grease and meat. And I feel, vaguely, that a young woman should be, I don’t know, engaging in some kind of mild night-life at least, instead of sitting in a ketchup-stained work-shirt, unable to muster enough oomph to turn on the television.
I buy food, thinking that I’ve shelled out enough money to get me through, like, two weeks. So, when the food is gone in two days, I’m left to wonder who is coming into the house late at night through locked doors to spirit it away. I mean, can I really eat that much? I like food, but I’m hardly making four meals a day; I don’t have time. I’m lucky to be at home and coherent enough to make one meal. On weekends, I make meals that my mother used to feed six people. And somehow, when I make it, it only feeds three. Why is this? What am I doing wrong? Is it because the people I feed are hungry all the time? Am I hungry all the time? Why am I hungry all the time? I eat a lot of food because no one is actually spiriting my food away. Baffling.
4) Finding Things
I spent a sizable amount of my childhood bellowing, “Mom, I can’t find it!”, as many children do. And my mother would appear and tell me exactly where whatever I was looking for had gotten to. Even things I assumed to be GONE FOREVER. And this was always amazing to me.
Now, there is no one to go to about finding things. I would probably have twice as much spare time if I didn’t spend so much of it wandering throughout the house, looking for clothes, books, pens, my writing, mail, beverages, particular dishes, one of my coats, my keys, my phone, and so on. I have created places for all these things; it’s just that these things don’t always get back to their places. Sometimes, they simply completely disappear because I literally just had them in my hands and now they’re gone. Then I have to search all the likely places and, after that, ALL the places.
All. The. Places.
I remember the first time I got a lecture on how to be a good liar. My littlest sister had knocked into something and given herself a real bloody lip. I was pretty young myself at the time, but I remember being the one she came crying to first, and all I could do was gape at the blood and gasp. Which made her cry harder. My mother found us two seconds later, and after taking care of my little sister, she took me aside and explained to me in a kind-but-stern way that no matter how horrible a wound looks, it is the duty of an older sibling to keep all the terror she might be feeling hidden and to say, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”
This was shocking to me because it meant that all those times I came to my parents thinking I was going to die and they told me I wasn’t, maybe I was. I wondered what else they were just making up. Actually, a lot of things.
See, your parents are only grown-ups. People who got taller. They didn’t pass a class. They didn’t earn a certificate. (Obviously, they get points for surviving past age eighteen, because the world’s not such a great place a lot of the time, but points don’t necessarily mean you suddenly know everything.) Thing is, even if parents don’t know everything, it’s part of their job to pretend to know everything for a certain portion of their children’s lives so those kids have some sense of safety and security. No ten-year-old wants to come into the house with a broken arm to a parent who panics and starts going on about how everything he knows about broken limbs is from movies and they’ve just moved and he can’t remember exactly how to get to the ER. All of those things might be true, but a parent can’t admit any of this. A parent lies and then figures stuff out in the middle of the action.
So. How is it that my parents accomplish these things? After five years of technical adulthood, I think I finally know the answer.
Both of my parents are magic-users, and I didn’t inherit any of their abilities.