About Me

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I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

When Does a Child Become an Adult?

September is, without a doubt, the fastest month of the year around here. It's been a month since I've been here at all, but we've been so busy that other than at work, I don't know that I booted my computer more than once or twice in the past month.

What consumes so much time? And so quickly, no less?
Back to school, with it's tectonic schedule shifting, open houses to meet and greet (for the millionth time) the teachers, which carries with it Individual meetings for each kid with an IEP;
Music lessons start for three kids;
CCD starts for two kids;
Soccer season for two of the kids (four practices per week and two games...at least this year, for the first time ever, the four practices are on just two nights every week)
American Football season starts, which makes me look forward to sitting on my duff on Sundays
Autumn - my very favorite season - also starts, and being a bit more happy makes things go faster.

The eldest scion also went back to college about 15 nanoseconds before he and I came to fisticuffs. we fought the whole summer long. I've come to the conclusion that there's a reason why, when a male lion gets to a certain age, they have to leave the pride. Same goes for male elephants: they get to a certain age, and off they go. If they don't, someone's going to get killed.

The issue is one of biology, I think. In their late teens and early 20s, kids are thinking that they are fully grown adults. They are fully capable, able to drive and be autonomous, they can vote and serve their respective countries, they are in their majority. What they don't understand is how friggin' arrogant, stupid, foolish, and inexperienced they are.

Quote alert:
It's amazing how old kids are getting these days.

As I've gotten older and more gray, I went from being the "kid" around the workplace to being one of the senior members of the engineering staff. Of course, in my new job, I'm the kid again, as many of the engineers are either pushing or have passed retirement age, and I've got a few miles left on the tires before I get there.

But these days, I look at other workers in the office and regard them as kids up until the time that they are in their mid- of late-30s, it seems. Kids have gotten *really* old!

This is not to say that they are not excellent engineers (or workers in general, whatever the role that they fill), or that they are not smart and well suited or well versed at their jobs. They are in many cases truly excellent workers and assets to the company. It's just that my definition of "kid" has changed. And all of my like-aged colleagues and friends have thus far agreed with me.

Kids are getting older and older.

Here's a conversation with my kid, about a week before he set off for college:

Me: "I wanted to apologize for our argument yesterday. I started too aggressively, and when you postured and became defensive, I also became defensive; I reacted badly and escalated the argument, which you then reflected. You and I have to agree to be more considerate of each other. We need to give each other the benefit of the doubt, and not assume that we're trying to fight with each other. We need to be calmer, and treat each other with more respect, and try to not fight.

Him: "I can't promise that."

Me: "Moron (actually, I used his name, but this works pretty well), we really have to try to get along; we live together, and constantly fighting is bad. We need to treat each other with more respect and not be so aggressive with each other."

Him: "That's kind of my go-to response."

Now, here's a full-grown 20ish "adult", right? There are many examples of people his age starting families. He's a smart person - much smarter than average, really - but he's such a damn moron that he'd rather fight with me than not! This kind of boggles my mind.

Guess whose name is on the lease of the car that he drives? He pays for it, but guess who pays the insurance? Guess who fills out the financial aid forms that are required for him to return to school? His mother, actually, but she and I are a good team. Guess where he intends to return to when he's not allowed to be on campus at school (holidays, summer, and the like)?

Our tension is born mostly from his desire to sit and play video games pretty much all day every day while his mother and I work for the money, shop for the food, cook the food, feed him, and then clean up. He wants to come out of his room, eat food then go back to his room. The other household chores are for his younger siblings to do.

I (we), on the other hand, demand that if you're consuming resources, you're going to be contributing to the various efforts that get the house from one end of the week to the next. And it has always been this way in our house. I've often noted that I'm not raising children...I'm raising adults, which I will one day release into the world. They need to be fully functioning at that time. They've always had chores with the expectation to contribute to the family unit and household.

You tell me: is this an adult, or an over-grown child?


  1. I've just gained a new understanding of why my parents tossed us out of the house the very moment that they could. Why are kids (we all were at some point) so obnoxious?

    1. Not sure why that is, but I've got three more coming along behind him! Should be a fun future!

  2. We did our best. God knows we did our best. We set examples..worked our butts off..set more examples. She's 37. I'm not going to tell you what it's been like. I will just say this. Hold on, cause it ain't over yet, it may NEVER be over. Just sayin'.

  3. Now I'm 37, I think everyone who's 30-below is a kid. ;) It's also a similar thing with daughters and mothers. I am not looking forward to Roz's teen years, that's for sure. I moved out as soon as I could, though, as a teen. I hope Roz and I get on better than that. I guess kids go through a narcissistic stage in their toddler years to prepare for going it alone at school, and then in their teens to prepare for going out into the world. But whatever the brain chemistry occuring, it's downright annoying and grey hair inducing.

  4. Annoying is the most pleasant word that I've encountered for it thus far! My own up-bringing was far more lax, and I don't really recall getting into any arguments with my parents (of course, back then it was beaten out of you!). I guess the best we can hope for is that they have kids too!

  5. You know, the view isn't that different down here (at 28.) I look around at people going to college, and I think pretty much the same thing. Except it comes out more like "When did I get so old!?"