A big theme of my life as I now know it is ‘What the feck am I up to?’ Sometimes I think I will probably feel like this into my forties, maybe even my fifties. If I have children I will have to pretend to them that I’m a complete legend though – don’t want to scare the little feckers. This little piece is about the difficulties in transitioning from child to adult. To be fair, going from three months off a year to four weeks is a bit of a stinger.
When you are in playschool and you make it to the jacks without a nappy you get a certificate saying how great you are and a pack of big girl knickers from Dunnes and your Mam starts crying.
In primary school if you draw a picture of the Credit Union with people holding hands around it you win the admiration of your peers (art skills are a precious and respected commodity in primary school circles), your teacher tells you how brilliant you are and you say: “Mam, that lady in the picture getting a loan out to fix the car is you” and your Mam starts crying, except this time it’s because she is poor and still tender after paying off the blown gasket.
In secondary school you have to work a bit harder, but you do still get some fantastic feedback when you draw a decent coliseum or produce some edible scones. You do have your ups and downs but there is no rent to pay and an almost unending supply of fish fingers and Findus Crispy Pancakes which you eat in front of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
College isn’t the worst of times either. Very little matches the delicious feeling of holding your brand new ringbinder tight, feeling like you’re in a Julia Stiles film, high on the promise of the kind of sexy college life you have seen in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. All in all the anxiety barometer is relatively low because you have that buffer that tells you there is plenty of time down the line to sort out your shite.
But that is all over now.
Now you have to worry about paying the rent; your mother won’t fill out forms for you and remember to post them; you want children but your eggs are dwindling every day and there’s nothing you can do about it; you have to work forty hour weeks, or more, maybe even in a job you don’t like, just so little Timmy can get new school shoes; you wonder will have to emigrate to get the career you want; hair is inexplicably starting to grow on your boobs; you start to have regrets and even start to write crap poetry about those regrets; you think you’re an eejit.
Did you prepare me for that Mam? What about you Sister Assumpta?
No, you just fed me Green Isle potato waffles and watched with pity as I shovelled them into my self-entitled mouth, ignorant to the looming adult realities that would soon claim me.
Without being patronising or trite I suppose what I’m getting at is we all have issues and worries, so if your nips start sprouting or you feel you’ve made the wrong choices or you haven’t a clue what you’re at chances are yer wan on the bus next to you is going through that too, or has in the past. In the words of the great sage (and talented dancer) Michael Jackson ‘you are not alone’.
There are a lot of internal and external factors that make it difficult to be a person so don’t be too hard on yourself. We’re all doing our best anyway and sure as we were told in the primary school glory days isn’t that all we can do?
P.S: This website is in no way affiliated with the frozen food powerhouses that are Findus and Green Isle. I won’t be getting any of their glacial produce for free, and more’s the pity.
First published 16 August 2013