Things I Thought Were Super ‘Adult' When I Was A KidErin Mallory Long

Sometimes (okay, always), when you’re younger you want to speed up your life and get to do all the cool things you see adults doing. Clearly, this is not always sensible. But it’s something we all go through – this desire to just go see an R-rated movie or get your license or be out without having to check in with your parents. These are normal I Can’t Wait to Grow Up And Do Everything things.

But I want to talk about those other (weirder) things that are perceived as adult from the comforts of youth (or maybe just by me).

1. Drinking Coffee and Coffee-Related Activities

I mean, really, what’s more adult than drinking coffee? We learned as kids it would stunt your growth and obviously we all dreamed of being 5’10” like Cindy Crawford, it exists to wake you up before work and it’s kind of gross without a ton of milk and sugar in it.

But you know what I thought was the most adult part of coffee? Shaking sugar packets to get the sugar to the bottom before you put it in your drink.

I’m so serious. Just that motion and that sound made me feel like, “Oh man, some serious stuff is about to go down.”

And now, this is an act I do every day (well, twice a day) and it merely serves as a reminder that I now depend on coffee to keep me awake. Just like those “adults.”

2. Caviar

I mean, I didn’t even really KNOW what caviar was as a kid but I knew it was food and something adults ate. Actually, specifically something that fancy adults ate. And that’s really the goal of life as a little kid anyway, right? Either be a superhero or, barring that, a very fancy adult.

Caviar is mentioned in Clueless as one of the things Cher wants to donate from her house to the Pismo Beach Disaster Relief so we KNOW it’s fancy. Jack Dawson also hilariously can’t recognize caviar in Titanic because he is so poor he’s never seen it before. AND THEN in You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks steals all the caviar even though Meg Ryan informs him, “That caviar is a GARNISH!” (Also, how much do I want to yell that at someone?)

I’ve since had caviar and do enjoy it but it still couldn’t possibly live up to my little kid dreams of being a hyper-fancy adult just sitting around with my monocle, eating caviar.

3. Writing Checks

I always remember being VERY impressed with how you write out checks and paying attention to how they’re written out. I definitely was that teen who, upon getting her first checking account, wrote checks for $5 just for fun (and hilariousness). There’s just something magical about writing the amount numerically and then also writing it out for clarity and THEN you get to sign your name and that means that money can go to someone else. Just amazing.

Of course now the only reason I ever write a check, really is for my rent bill so it just makes me sad that so much money a month goes to a space I don’t own. I mean, I’m not going to lie, I sometimes still find check-writing thrilling but it definitely doesn’t hold the same mystique that it once did.

4. Being Sequestered for Jury Duty

I think this comes from my desire to go to a “lock in” at school or church or wherever one goes to a lock in. I didn’t really know what a lock in was (clearly) but I knew it sounded like fun. Like sleepaway camp but for only a night. (I never went to sleepaway camp either). But for some reason being sequestered for jury duty seemed like THE most exciting thing that could happen to a person. I mean, clearly in The Simpsons episode “The Boy Who Knew Too Much”, I was taught by Homer how to get the most out of being sequestered on a jury.

Much to my disappointment, when I finally had jury duty, I realized it is really boring. I sat in a weird room for hours with mostly crazy people (that 30 Rock about people on NYC at jury duty is pretty spot-on), watching that jury video you have to watch and then Forrest Gump. Let me tell you, crying to Forrest Gump at jury duty is not the glamorous thrill-ride I thought being sequestered would be. (Also, I hadn’t seen that movie in years, so it wasn’t until jury duty that I realized Jenny died of AIDS. Crazy.)

Maybe (hopefully not) . . . one day I’ll know the adult joys of being sequestered for jury duty.

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  • Georgia Smith

    Oh man, I love this, especially the clever little references to Clueless and that Simpsons episode :). I’m almost 19 but living in Australia Ive been an “adult” for a year now, I know it’s not reality but the thought of being called up for jury juty and spending the night in a super fancy hotel (not sure what hotel that is in Perth) because clearly I will be called and chosen as jury for a very serious case, is still kind of exciting. Also for two weeks in year 3 my friends and I thought we were so grown up when we carried books to class rather than putting them in our bags and wore our hairs in a bun and glasses lower on our nose, I then came to the realisation that we would “grow up in our own time,” something my mum had told me, but by imparting this knowledge on my friends I was obviously the most mature 8 year old.
    Oh and recieving lots of mail was also something only grown ups got, I knew even when I was little that most of it was bills but the thought of getting lots of them was still cool… until I started recieving my own.

  • Heather Chalmers-Pearson

    Love this article. For me it was heel clicking and smoking

  • Rachael Graham

    This is so funny and true! I also thought eating mushrooms was a very adult thing to do, but alas at 26 I still don’t like them and neither do a lot of other “adults” I know haha

  • Alex McKelley

    I always thought of wearing perfume as such a “grown-up” thing, I remember being little and sneaking into my mom’s room and just coating myself in her perfume. I’d even spray my stuffed animals…I was also really excited the first time I was aloud shave my legs…yeah, I’m not so excited about leg-shaving anymore…

  • Rachel Pryse

    Writing in cursiveand holding a wine glass the proper way; you know by the stem of course!

  • Caroline Jeffery

    “this is the fanciest thing I’ve ever been involved in that my parents weren’t also involved in.”

  • Caroline Jeffery

    i think the thrill of writing checks is lost when you’re an adult because you actually understand the worth of money and that you are giving it away. *sigh*

  • Phoebe Bella Lopez

    I’ve been drinking coffee as long as I can remember (of course, I didn’t do it so religiously then). I was always surprised when other kids said that they didn’t.
    I always thought it was adult to smoke. When I was in elementary, during winter, we’d go get breakfast in the cafeteria, get the straws, cut them into three parts, go outside and pretend to smoke them. The puffs of air from the cold made it look like we were smoking. We had thought it was pretty darn hilarious.
    I also thought it was adult to tell people “you’re FIRED!”, so I’d end up going around yelling at people that they were fired.

  • Alyssa Bacon-Liu

    I always thought it was so adult to order a steak at a restaurant. Even now at the age of 25 I still feel slightly intimidated ordering one.

  • Sarah Meadows

    Studying! I thought that it was a very adult thing to study. My older sister always did it, and my mom brought a lot of paperwork home, so I just assumed that big girls studied all the time. I used to obsess over my spelling words, even though I knew how to spell them before they were actually assigned to me. Now I think that studying is evil. In fact, I should be studying right now…

    Oh, and a few other things: parting your hair on the side (my mom used to tell me that this was for big girls), having enough CDs to fill up one of those spinning racks that everyone had, riding in the front seat of the car, and of course wearing a bra!

  • Anonymous

    some things on my list: smoking (we would pretend to smoke using lollipop sticks) and having an ID (we would make them out of anything).

  • Katy Cole

    I insisted that my mom let me write out the checks at the grocery store when I was about 8. This lasted till I was at least 11.

  • Anonymous

    I insisted that my mom let me write out the checks at the grocery store when I was about 8. This lasted till I was at least 11.

  • Zoë Colburn

    swishing your hips when you walked and (naturally) wearing lipstick! my mom never had a lot of makeup, but i always sneaked some lipstick on when i could.

  • Sierra Harrington

    I always wanted to get something in the mail not realizing that it was, and still is, all JUNK!!! Who ever gets anything good the mail!?

  • Jessica Calhoun

    I always thought being one of those people who lugged their books and laptop to the local coffee house (i.e. Starbucks) were super adult, because they were learning things that were far out of my reach at the time, and they were all obviously super smart. I now work at Starbucks and have also realized my dream of studying there all the stinking time. All of it. Like right now, for example, I should be studying. Maybe those people were doing what I’m doing now, and were never really studying at all. Hm.

  • Robert Remillard

    Racing a car. Not having to study.

  • Doreen Mulman

    For me, the only thing I felt would make me a grown-up would be to drive a car, which I started to do, unlicensed, when I was 14 years old. Now, at 50 years old, I hate driving… But that’s probably because I live in the Los Angeles area.

  • Jess Allen-Summers

    I’m super bummed that I really don’t like coffee because it means I will never truly be an adult. Also, I always thought that paying by credit card at the checkout was like the most grown up thing ever.

  • Claire Amodru

    I totally find myself in this article ! I always had a problem with that ,always wanted to grow up faster,always wanted to be mature because when I was a kid a though that when you are a grown up stuffs are more simple,you’re free ,you’re stronger to deal with problems,and love is easier but you know what ,I realized that it’s absolutly not true,things get juste more and more complicated and you have to find a way to be happy no matter what because I learned that we don’t solve problems with a big ice cream anymore!I’ve been through a lot and I keep thinking that a grew up too much faster and now i regret it because now , it ‘s found out that it hurt people somehow …

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