RECENTLY I wrote in this column about feeling immature, not a true grown-up.
This week I read with interest a survey on this very subject, concluding that most of us don’t feel grown-up until we are at least 26, have a mortgage, and can change a lightbulb by ourselves.
These are two of 50 key indicators of adulthood, which also include paying into a pension, having children, and making a will. I can tick these boxes – and go one better, having fixed the pull-string light switch in our bathroom.
I also qualify as a fully-fledged grown-up through the bizarre fact of owning a lawnmower, and a vacuum cleaner (albeit a dodgy one).
But, on many counts, I’ve failed to make the grade. True adults do a weekly shop. Try as I might, I haven’t yet achieved this. Even with a list, I manage to bring home the ingredients for at the very most three nights meals. usually it’s two, then I’m back to the shops, having run out of something vital.
My daughters are usually to blame, devouring the contents of the fridge like locusts. And if they bring their friends round, every cupboard is pillaged. Then again, it could be my fault for miscalculating the teenage appetite. Proper grown-ups enjoy cooking, but I don’t, seeing it as more of a chore than a pleasure. And real adults wash up immediately after eating.
These signs of delayed development are thrown into sharp relief when I visit my parents, who are proper adults, ticking almost every box.
They wash the pots straight after a meal. When I stay I feel so much pressure to help that I whip away the plates prematurely.
“Don't wash-up yet, we haven’t finished eating,” my dad will say.
They get a Sunday paper delivered. Apart from the News of the World, which either I, or one of my housemates, would buy as students to entertain us, this is a ritual I’ve never got into. The one I buy on a Saturday weighs more than a set of encyclopaedias and takes about a month to get through. My parents have a joint bank account, something neither I nor any of my friends would consider, and they would find having a messy house annoying. In truth, I find that annoying too, but having few cupboards, and a dodgy vacuum, means I can’t do much about it.
Compared with my parents, I haven’t really grown up at all. Except in one way – recycling. Separating and recycling your waste is a sign of adulthood – and while I do it religiously, my parents don’t. I also know how to make a good curry from leftovers and make a Barbie bed from cereal boxes – but unfortunately they’re not on the list.