Well, my teenager daughter finally reached a milestone.. she turned 18!
She could not wait for the day she was legally an adult. The first thing she did.. buy a lottery ticket! That was the rite of passage to adulthood. She could go to the counter and ask for a scratch off. Oh, the freedom!
The day after her birthday, her voter’s registration card came in. The joy she felt now that she could vote, and that her opinion mattered to the world was so amazing. It was wonderful seeing the things we take for granted as full-grown adults versus the outlook of new adult entering the world. I have to admit, it was sweet and cute at the same time.
It wasn’t too long after that Olivia began reminding me that “now that I am 18..”, as if the rules changed, as if life would change, as if things would be different now. Did I miss something? Yes, you are correct Olivia, there will be changes. You can now legally vote. You can get arrested as an adult. You can buy a lottery ticket. You don’t need my permission legally for anything. I need your permission to talk to doctors about your health or your health bills, and the list goes on and on. I didn’t understand the big deal of her wanting to be an adult so fast. I kept telling her, “Olivia, why are you in such a rush to grow up? Enjoy life. Stop and smell the roses.” She didn’t buy it. Maybe someday she will.
I did remind her that even though she was 18 and legally an adult, she was still my daughter and still had to follow the house rules, or she could go live somewhere else. I told her she had to respect the house rules whether she was 8, 18, 28 or 58. Being an adult is knowing the difference between disrespect and respect and behaving in an appropriate adult, mature manner.
Eighteen is just a number. At 18, you are legally an adult, but you are still a kid with a lot of growing up to do. I told Olivia, “you are still my daughter and I will still discipline you no matter how old you are.” You don’t stop being a parent because your child is an adult. You never stop. The worries just get bigger.
The week of her birthday, Olivia decided to watch home videos of herself with her cousin, Amanda, and her brother, Matthew. I loved hearing her laugh out loud at how precocious and vain she was at such a young age. She loved hearing herself talk as a child and the crazy adorable things she would say. I think it was at that moment she realized that being a child wasn’t so bad — no worries, no drama, no responsibilities, just silliness and laughter.
That same week, we went to her annual physical to her pediatrician she has been going to since she was six months old. She told me, “Now that I am 18, I want to go to an adults’ doctor office, not a kids’ one.” I said fine. Well, her pediatrician congratulated her on turning 18 and told her she could continue to go there until she was 21. Olivia said, “No it’s ok.” The doctor then proceeded to tell her how she looks amazing and takes great care of herself and how she remember when she was a baby and all the times she would come into the office. After the doctor left, Olivia said to me, “Mom, I think I am going to stay here after all. I like this doctor a lot.” I told her that was a smart adult decision.
Having your child turn 18 doesn’t mean the rough teen years are over. It just means the crazy adult ones are coming!
So, I ask all the parents out there, how was it when your teen turned 18? How did they react to becoming legally an adult? How did you react?