That was the philosophical bombshell my 11-year-old son dropped on me the other day. I think I was in the middle of struggling with some boring but necessary task and told him I had to take a rain check on playing his new zombie chainsaw video game.
I am a big believer in fun, but notwithstanding what you see in beer commercials, being an adult often gets in the way.
There’s keeping track of paying not-so-fun bills, making sure there’s gas in the car and the dirty furnace filter gets changed when the thermostat starts beeping at you.
It’s a special adult joy this time of year to gather together all your stubs and receipts to so you can pay your taxes. I know there are people depending on me to pay them. If I don’t pay my taxes there’s some senator who will have to go without their housing allowance or will have to travel coach.
A child doesn’t know the fun of running down the street in your pajamas on hearing the garbage truck at the end of your driveway at 7:30 in the morning when for the past six months they’ve come regularly at 4:30 in the afternoon and you haven’t put your trash out.
Adults have to do the responsible things like schedule doctor and dentist appointments or find someone to unclog a toilet on a Sunday evening.
They have to pay attention to boring things like life insurance, college funds and putting on an itchy suit to go to the occasional funeral of elderly aunts.
Inside the house everyone’s favourite groceries have to be continually restocked, floors cleaned and laundry done. Not many people would consider any of these things fun.
And then there are the responsibilities of parenthood, with everything from wresting with long division and provincial capitals to mysterious stomach aches and bazooka barfing on the best rug in the house.
Speaking of dentists and doctors, there’s no adult joy like holding your child’s hand while they’re getting a needle or the dentist is at work with a drill on their first cavity. Plus you have to do it with a calm look on your face even though you’re feeling the pain at least as much as them.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone with kids, but they do tend to put a crimp in your social life. If you want to go out you are at the mercy of your babysitter’s schedule. You could have playoff tickets, but you’re not going anywhere unless some 16-year -old chooses to accept your 10 bucks an hour instead of going out with her friends.
Forget spontaneous road trips, cheap last minute vacations or staying out until four because the Rolling Stones unexpectedly showed up to jam in a local bar.
Adults have to get up the next morning for work or get the kids to school with a nutritious lunch and their homework done.
And while it’s theoretically possible as an adult to eat candy and ice cream at every meal, stay up late and drive a car with big red flames on the sides, not many of us actually do it.
After listening to my catalog of responsibilities my son came to the inevitable conclusion: “So you’re saying that kids wreck adults having fun.”
I looked at him.
“No. You are the most fun thing in my life and I’m awfully lucky to have you. Now let’s play that video game. Those zombies aren't going to kill themselves."
© Stephen Lautens - 2013