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Misapprehensions

Back when I was a kid – and dear $DEITY that feels so wrong because while the calendar says I’m over 50 and the body says I’m over 50 what’s inside doesn’t seem anything like that far gone – I thought it had to be good to be an adult. You didn’t have all those restrictions on what you were allowed to do.

Yeah, I can hear the laughing. I guess I was pretty typical kid on that front, not noticing the responsibilities that went along with those extra freedoms.

The other thing I missed isn’t quite so obvious: I would swear that as you get older time moves faster. I remember long, endless summers, and days at school that seemed to last forever. Now, the days are a kind of blur where the week ends and I’ve barely started to wake up again before it’s Monday and I’m back into the routine of rolling out of bed when the alarm goes off, spending the day in the usual mix of work, eat, sleep, then it’s rinse and repeat for the rest of the week.

I really want to know who is stealing my time and where can I find the sorry son of a mangy goat (I can go on like this for a long time and if I’m really on song, I can do it without once using what’s officially known as ‘bad language’. I’m told I rather startled the last person who was present when I did this).

So yeah. Time is flexible. The way kids think isn’t the way adults think (more’s the pity. I’d rather have the kid perspective, thanks, when all the good stuff was definitely going to happen to me in time). In other news, water is wet, and politicians are morons. Highly educated morons, certainly, but morons nonetheless. The selection process weeds out the truly smart ones (they take one look and decide they aren’t interested in politics after all).

The thing is, back when I was a kid, I thought I knew it all. Or at least a reasonable percentage of it. And as the saying goes, “it ain’t what you don’t know that gets you, it’s what you know that ain’t so.” Truly becoming an adult includes realizing that an awful lot of the things a person is certain about as a kid are actually not that certain after all. And may even be wrong.

Learning this requires a certain amount of suffering. The same way a baby will never learn to walk if it’s picked up and carried everywhere so it doesn’t hurt itself falling over, if a kid gets protected from the pain that comes with discovering that life is unfair, unjust, and often an outright bitch, they don’t grow up to be an adult. They just become an adult-sized kid.

This little fact of life is one of the reasons coming of age in its various forms is such a popular thing in our genres. Star Wars – the original trilogy – has the coming of age as a big part of the underlying material. It’s kind of satisfying to experience the traumas of growing up at one remove: you can sympathize with the poor sod having his, her, or its life turned inside out while you keep the reassurance that it’s not your life being turned on its ear for the amusement of some deity or other.

Plus, if you read between the lines, you just might pick up a lesson or two.

Oh, who am I kidding. In half of them the lesson smacks you between the eyes, gives you a wedgie, and yells “neener neener neener” at you. And that’s the ones where the author isn’t telling you what the moral of the story is (oh dear $DEITY I hated those stories. I don’t want to be told what the moral is. I want to find my own bloody moral and it just might be something that you didn’t think you put in that story because words can have many meanings and so can actions and we all interpret both through our own experiences thank you very much… I appear to have been ambushed by a random soapbox. Sorry).

The point being, if this half-asleep ramble can be said to have one, that experience always teaches, but reading about other experiences, whether factual or not, can teach if you’re willing to learn. And being willing to learn can clear up a hell of a lot of misapprehensions, which in turn makes the life of adults rather easer.

And most sensible adults would much prefer an easier life – as long as they can have it without losing their souls.

29 Comments
  1. Harry Russell #

    Heh, I remember being 15 & setting off my “English” teacher because I couldn’t tell him the moral of the story I was reading while walking between classes (IIRC my answer was “I’m reading for enjoyment not analysis”).
    Considering the book in question was Heinlein’s Starship Troopers he might (being very, very, “liberal”) might’ve had even more of a problem if I had told him any of the lessons I eventually determined were there to be learned from it…

    February 28, 2019
    • Kate #

      Rather like telling J K Rowling that the moral of the Harry Potter books 3 through 7 was “don’t trust those in authority” (and you can argue 1 & 2 on those lines, too). She’d be appalled.

      February 28, 2019
      • Really? I’m glad I just read her books, and not more about her. I suspect the Hunger Games author doesn’t recognize her message either.

        February 28, 2019
      • Matthew #

        Lessons from Harry Potter;

        The press lies
        The government is incompetent and corrupt
        Children are to be trusted with deadly weapons at age 11
        Lie, cheat, and steal if you have to, but if it counts, do what you need to win.

        February 28, 2019
        • Kate Paulk #

          More lessons from Harry Potter

          If you want something done, do it yourself.
          No matter how horrible something is, nobody is going to fix it for you.
          Torture is acceptable as long as it’s done by prison guards to prisoners.
          Or by teachers to students.
          Children are more intelligent than adults during school term.
          Never make bad jokes about terrorists. You will get arrested.

          February 28, 2019
  2. John in Philly #

    In the eight grade I learned that the reading teacher didn’t know enough science to realize that the mention of “Q” force in relation to acceleration in a book was a typo, and I learned that proving her wrong wins the battle, but loses the war.

    February 28, 2019
    • Kate #

      Oh, yes. There is no real way to win an argument with a teacher unless that teacher is willing to be corrected by students. You might win once, but the teacher is going to give you the stink-eye for the rest of your time there. And warn other teachers about you as well.

      No, I don’t know anything about this. Whatever gave you that idea?

      February 28, 2019
      • I was lucky to have teachers in both high school and college who were willing to listen to students. This allowed us to point out printing or factual errors in the textbooks, or politely correct the teacher as long as we could back it up. (We’d also get thanked. And yes ‘we’ – I wasn’t the only one who’d do this.)

        March 1, 2019
    • Santa #

      I had a math teacher my Senior year in high school who had no problem with being proven wrong. It showed that the student was really learning the subject. He insisted that it be done in a polite manner.

      February 28, 2019
      • Joe in PNG #

        I’ve had a rare couple of teachers who encouraged you to prove them wrong, to check the rational behind the textbook answer, and to not accept what you are told blindly.

        February 28, 2019
      • Reziac #

        Ah, poor Mr.Hackman, my 10th grade geometry teacher… back then it was all proofs on the blackboard, he had a tendency to misspeak and miswrite, and it got to be sort of a game to catch him in a mistake. One day, apparently by mutual decree, the class let him get ALL the way to the end of a very long proof… then all of us at once ambushed him with, “You made a mistake WAAAAY back there.” And being the methodical person he was, once the clamor convinced him to check, he backtracked all the way up to the error… and you could tell he was pleased we’d been paying attention. He didn’t look like much on the surface, and we were merciless, but even so he’d go full out helping any student who showed the slightest desire to learn the subject.

        February 28, 2019
        • *narrows eyes* One wonders if he didn’t cultivate making the mistakes, so that students could catch him out.

          Dad would insert the phrase ‘pornographic memory’ and similar phrases into his lectures (when holding seminars at the Department of Foreign Affairs) to see who was paying attention and to wake up the ones who were falling asleep. When everyone was paying attention, he’d smile and continue the lecture proper.

          March 2, 2019
      • Kate Paulk #

        Teachers like that are worth more than their weight in gold.

        February 28, 2019
  3. The time perception is real. I think it’s exacerbated by having the routines an adult has. We’re not doing new stuff. I think it was Hugh Howey who said you make your life longer by doing things you’ve not done before, something along the lines of how it seems to take forever to go someplace new, but coming back is much quicker.

    I highly recommend Arnold Bennett’s short book How to Live on 24 Hours a Day. It’s free, charming, and–if you’ve just read Three Men in a Boat and want to continue the feeling–pleasingly Victorian. https://www.amazon.com/How-Live-24-Hours-Day-ebook/dp/B0084AHN6C

    February 28, 2019
    • Kate Paulk #

      That makes a lot of sense, really. It seems like when you’re skimming through on autopilot you don’t notice the passage of time, where if you’re paying attention, you do notice so it doesn’t just vanish on you.

      February 28, 2019
  4. “without losing their souls.” The compromises wear you down, like dragging a weight.

    February 28, 2019
    • Kate Paulk #

      They do. Losing your soul to the compromises you make is a very real danger.

      February 28, 2019
  5. Zsuzsa #

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just trans-age. If all those cis-age people continue to insist that you’re over fifty just because you were assigned a birthdate before 2/28/1969, call them out for mis-aging you, and get them fired from their jobs and shunned from polite society.

    I wish I was kidding.

    https://www.academia.edu/38446948/A_Moral_Case_for_Legal_Age_Change.pdf

    February 28, 2019
    • Kate Paulk #

      Oh dear $DEITY.

      Yeah, sure I can claim I’ve been mis-aged, but – alas – biology wins. Every time.

      February 28, 2019
    • thephantom182 #

      The lady at the store called me “young man” yesterday, got a big smile out of me. Being mis-aged is more fun the more age you have. ~:D

      February 28, 2019
      • A few years ago, my wife and I walked into a bar and sat down. The waitress, a cheerful young thing, asked us what we wanted. Beer, I think? Then she got very flustered, and asked for ID. Balding, obviously at least middle-aged me shrugged, dug out my drivers license, and showed it to her. Then when she agreed that I was old enough to drink, I asked her just what was going on? Why was she carding me? She giggled, and said that just the week before, they had been raided, and the owner had decreed that EVERYONE was going to be carded, no exceptions. So we laughed about it, and I thanked her for the compliment. I mean… there’s a point where having someone say you look too young to be drinking really is nice!

        March 1, 2019
  6. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    Well, there’s over 50 and Really Over 50! 😈

    In June, I’ll turn 65 and I’M NOT READY TO BE 65! 😀

    February 28, 2019
    • Kate Paulk #

      I hear you – I was *so* not ready for 50 and now I’m definitely into the 50+ range.

      I wonder if anyone really feels the age they actually are.

      February 28, 2019
      • Jane Meyerhofer #

        My mom certainly didn’t. She said she still felt like an 18 year old when she was 82. She also said that looking at my new baby daughter was like looking down a well. I don’t know exactly what she meant.

        February 28, 2019
    • Mary #

      Young people, you want to know what it feels like to be fifty?

      Tell yourself you are fifty and feel the shock of the incongruity. It feels like that.

      March 1, 2019
    • rightasusual2003gmailcom #

      65 is WONDERFUL! You can sign up for Social Security and Medicare (although, you might want to hold off on the SS – the longer you wait – up to a point – the more you will get each month). You never have to worry about being uninsured again.

      You start getting ready to plan your exit from work. Gives you a delightful feeling of freedom for months before as you realize they can’t fire you – too much trouble for such a short time. You start saying what you REALLY think in meetings.

      Pure delight.

      March 2, 2019
  7. Draven #

    ehh, when i was a kid i knew i didnt know everything. People didnt like that. They didnt like that i knew what i did know even less….

    February 28, 2019
  8. I’m well over 50, and I find the days are still 24 hours, but the years are approaching the speed of sound.

    March 1, 2019
    • Jane Meyerhofer #

      This….!

      March 1, 2019

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