“Latchkey kid” is a term I learned in recent years that has applied to me my entire life. Mom was rarely home when I returned from school thanks to a full time job at a liquor store/deli and a love for our local casino. Dear Morongo peeps, you’re welcome. I am pretty sure she was responsible for your income for at least a decade. So working mom with a thing for Keno, combined with a schizophrenic babysitter and her alcoholic brother my mom dated meant me and my younger brother were left to fend for ourselves pretty early on.
If you raise your kids right, they’ll fully understand the basics like not opening the door for strangers and not setting the house on fire. We emerged from childhood never once having been abducted or set ablaze, but what we lacked was a sense of structure. My younger brother hated authority when put in an educational setting, and while I always thought I was different from him in that way – I learned out in the real world that my problem with that came in the form of bosses. I’ve had some good ones I’ve had no problems with, but the ones I’ve completely hated…it was quite apparent we did not mesh well.
With a lack of respect for anyone who bosses me around, I wondered – was I still a kid in that manner? It’s hard for me not to freak out if cornered by what I’d like to call an authoritative dictator bully, but at the same time…I support myself, have a place outside of my mom’s house and don’t ever come running to her for help. That should make her see me as an adult, right? Wrong. I really thought when I presented her with the simple question of, “Do you see me more as a kid or an adult,” she’d go with “adult.” Instead she faltered for not even a second before “child” came out of her mouth. I mean, I’m not nearly as secure as my older brother who has kids and a stable job, and has lived across the country for like two decades now BUT sheesh, I am not like my younger brother either; a once-upon-a-time candidate for an episode of 16 and Pregnant complete with a drama queen, who still lives in his childhood bedroom. Saying that, rather typing that out loud, I can now see why she did say a minute after “child” spilled out so fast that I was “half and half.”
An adult in her eyes because I work a literal handful of jobs, am not in her house and am in a steady relationship. Those three attributes make me more than the little girl once was dressed in an Invader Zim tee she had to stand in that “louder than shit” store for during the summer. While those are major aspects of my life I thought would make her see me as an equal of sorts, they weren’t exactly enough for her to not note that I was still like a kid in some ways. The “childish” things I’m still into like Backstreet Boys (me and Erica are in the same boat on this one), my love of cartoons and shows more fitting for teens and tweens, and “stuff like that” is what made her lean towards spitting out “child” when initially approached.
Looking at what she had to say, I guess I am somewhere in the middle. My handful of jobs are all freelance positions that barely make me enough, my own place isn’t a fancy loft or anything AND I mean, I still freak out over Backstreet Boys and could probably teach a class on Degrassi. Ugh, I really thought she’d say I was a freaking grown up – bummer, but I mean, circling back to my brothers, I am in the middle of polar opposites on the spectrum in both maturity and age. I’m not as stable as my older brother, but not as immature as the other. Just a little girl stuck in the middle of being her age and the 14-year-old she may always have inside of her. Adult adolescence may be our generation’s downfall.