So…When Do I Become A Grown-Up?


A good friend of mine teaches Sociology in our high school.  One of the projects her students do is called “Who Am I?”  This is intended to take them beyond their looking-glass selves, past what they think other people see in them, to their real selves.  The projects are quite amazing and I always think that I have no idea how I would answer the question myself.  Today, while sifting through my “junk drawer” in my desk, I ran across a note which I wrote while at a seminar on stress.  The title?  Who Am I?


I think that what I answered that day is pretty accurate.  The part I want to talk about today is, “I don’t really feel like a grown up most of the time, even though I have three kids who are growing up.”  If I don’t feel like a grown up at forty-six years of age, when will I?

Have you heard the song “I Won’t Grow Up” from Peter Pan?

Are you ready for today’s lesson?

Yes, Peter!

Listen to your teacher. Repeat after me:
I won’t grow up,
(I won’t grow up)
I don’t want to go to school.
(I don’t want to go to school)
Just to learn to be a parrot,
(Just to learn to be a parrot)
And recite a silly rule.
(And recite a silly rule)
If growing up means
It would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,
I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me!
Not I,
Not me!
Not me!
I won’t grow up,
(I won’t grow up)
I don’t want to wear a tie.
(I don’t want to wear a tie)
And a serious expression
(And a serious expression)
In the middle of July.
(In the middle of July)
And if it means I must prepare
To shoulder burdens with a worried air,

I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me,
Not I,
Not me!
So there!
Never gonna be a man,
I won’t!
Like to see somebody try
And make me.
Anyone who wants to try
And make me turn into a man,
Catch me if you can.
I won’t grow up.
Not a penny will I pinch.
I will never grow a mustache,
Or a fraction of an inch.
‘Cause growing up is awfuller
Than all the awful things that ever were.
I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up,
No sir,
Not I,
Not me,
So there!



Let’s look at that a bit.  “If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,” I can not remember the last time I climbed a tree but I do remember spending hours reading in the maple tree in our front yard.  Thinking about it now I can feel the gentle swaying of the branches in the breeze.  Why don’t I climb trees anymore?  I don’t think it has anything to do with dignity but possibly opportunity and the fact that I’m not at all sure my body is up to it anymore.  I have found the gentle swaying of my hammock both more accessible and equally satisfying. 


As for penny pinching, moustache growing and gaining height, I did reach my full height, I hope I never grow a moustache that leaves penny pinching.  It is interesting that Peter associates penny pinching with being grown up.  I wonder if he means the constant challenge of making the money we make stretch to accommodate the needs and perceived needs of our families.  This is certainly one of the big stressors in adult life and in relationships as well. 


Where Peter’s logic comes crashing down is when he sings, “Cause growing up is awfuller than all the awful things that ever were.”  This is the image that we tend to give kids, sometimes directly and sometimes inadvertantly.  I know some kids who have already gone through more awful things in their first eighteen years than lots of adults.  Children who are abused, abandones, bullied etc. often fall into despair from our message of, “you think you have it bad now, just wait until you are an adult.”  It is little wonder that the teen suicide rates are what they are!


I guess by Peter’s standards I am grown up.  I shoulder the burdens of responsibility and while I make every attempt to do it with good humour and placing my faith in God, I’m sure I often wear the worried air to which he refers.  But being a grown up is really awesome!  The freedom and opportunities open to us as adults are amazing and I would not for a second want a young person to feel they need to avoid being grown up.  At the same time, though, I still spend hours wondering what I will be when I grow up.  My career as a teacher is nearing its natural end and I think a lot about what I will do then.  In the meantime I plan to not take myself too seriously, and if a nice low branch offers itself I just may climb up a tree with my Kobo and settle in to read a bit!


thanks to for the lyrics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s