Now that I’m all grown up |

Now that I’m all grown up

Meredith L. Cohen

It occurred to me recently that, without trying, I have become an adult. No single event sparked the revelation; rather, my transition to maturity is marked by the fulfillment of a laundry list of things I vowed as a kid never to do or say when I was a grown-up.All I ever wanted for breakfast during childhood was chocolate; however, my selections were limited to oatmeal, Farina Hot Wheat or Cream of Wheat and scrambled eggs. I remember my Dad once crumbled under my tearful pleas in the cereal aisle of the supermarket and I managed to triumphantly exit the store with a box of Count Chocula. The spoon – teeming with already brown milk and corn and marshmallow bits chockfull of additives and preservatives – was approaching my lips when my mom entered the kitchen and yelled, “Freeze!” After that, I was prohibited from accompanying my dad on his food shopping expeditions (although a compromise was reached allowing me to add raisins to the oatmeal). When I got to college, I found that skipping breakfast altogether saved much needed time on those frequent mornings when I overslept. And when I started my first entry-level job, a plain cup of coffee was the morning meal most economically pleasing to my anorexic wallet. These days, though, given the choice between a frosted, jelly-filled donut or an egg-white omelet with whole wheat toast, I opt for the latter not just for its nutritional superiority, but also because my seasoned taste buds no longer crave sugar before noon. I voluntarily attend lectures. I’m more apt to read than watch TV before bed. I run several times a week, and never because I’m being chased. I order fish in restaurants. I make salads at home. No pliers are needed to part my lips when eating Brussels sprouts. I recognize that a chocolate muffin is merely a cupcake in disguise. I very rarely drink milk directly from the carton.I generally think that music at weddings is too loud. I wonder how techno music is actually considered music. I call my grandpa and great aunt without being asked (or told). I look forward to my birthday slightly less each year (even though it is still obviously the most important day on the calendar). I don’t leave the house with wet hair. I make my bed every morning even though I know I’ll just mess it up again at night. I wear my seat belt whether I’m in the front or back of a car. I look both ways before crossing the street. I take my vitamins instead of hiding them in the trash. The words “you’ll understand when you’re older” have crossed my lips more than once. I read things before I sign them (apparently with the exception of my 2003 taxes, for which I am now being penalized by the IRS). I successfully pretended to understand the eye-glazing language in the lease for my new apartment (i.e. “Subject to Article XII, notwithstanding anything therein or herein to the contrary contained…”). I sometimes even consider the feelings of others before my own.I used to resent having a bedtime, and in my teen years, a curfew. Late night was so obviously the time when all the good stuff was just getting started. I prided myself on being fully functional with less than two hours of sleep. Nowadays, I brag to anyone who will listen when I get eight or more hours of quality REM and curse myself if I get anything less than seven.But, although all signs point to my being a grown-up, there are times that I feel as though I remain on the young side of old. I still occasionally call my Mom in tears. I happily accept the cash that my Dad slips me when he drops me off at the airport. I think I’ll always relish Barbie shopping for my niece and watching old Disney movies with my nephew. I take pride in being extra sensitive and stubbornly defensive during arguments (especially with my sister, although the physical parts of those altercations ceased at least five or 10 years ago). Only in moments of absolute weakness will I admit to being wrong about anything. And to be totally honest, a Hershey bar is still my meal of choice, regardless of the time of day. I suppose no matter how old you get, some things never change.Though she has a few decades on her, Meredith Cohen can still throw temper tantrums that rival those of Julia, her 3-year-old niece. Questions or comments can be e-mailed to

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