I often get asked if I have children. Must be the grey hairs, the twitch and the permanent look of despair. But it’s a reasonable question to ask someone of my age. Trouble is, I’m never quite sure of how to answer. The truth is, yes! I do. I have 2 children. But I tend to associate the word ‘children’ as generally being those under the age of 10. That lovely age where they’re unaffected by life, not a care in the world other than when they can next have an ice-cream or a trip to the park. They’re cuddly and cute and you can tuck them up in bed at night and kiss their chubby little innocent pink cheeks. Children are sweet, small little things – well in my head anyway!
My ‘children’ are 27 and 22. They’re adults. But to say I have ‘adults’ just sounds, well, somewhat creepy. And the word ‘adult’ is often coupled with the word ‘responsible’. Which I just can’t quite see them as! They’re ‘Grown Up Children’. Larger versions of their younger selves. He shaves, he has a car, a girlfriend and a job. She has just finished Uni, has a boyfriend and a penchant for cocktails. And they’re both still at home. But despite being ‘adults’ according to their birth certificates, actually they’re not. What they are is ‘Giant Children’. Because despite their size and their age, the behaviour has barely changed at all.
IMAGE FOR REFERENCE ONLY. ACTUALLY I DON’T HAVE GREY HAIR AND MY KIDS ARE DEFINITELY NOT GINGER!
I think it’s something about being a) still in the house you grew up in and b) still being with your sibling that makes these ‘Young Adults’ behave like – well ‘Giant Children’. Although I manage to painfully eke some rent out of Giant Child 1, it is handed over begrudgingly and with an almighty huff. I don’t blame him. He’d really rather be somewhere else! His size 11 trainers are scattered here there and everywhere and despite being responsible for a mountain of crockery and utensils, the thought of actually putting them in the dishwasher is incomprehensible. And he takes up so much room! A whole sofa! Coupled with the discarded footwear, sports bags and inability to master how a bin works, it’s all getting rather crowded in here. The little bundle of energy that used to tear around the house now looms large in doorways, towering above us all, dispelling wind from any given orifice at any given time (apparently this is really really funny). Giant Child 2 is less imposing, a bit more helpful and smells a little sweeter. But being fresh out of studying, with a huge debt (thanks to ‘Just Call Me Dave’), the chance of her being able to afford to move out anytime soon is just as far off as the other one – who despite having a decent job, has no hope of getting a mortgage any time soon.
Young adults are more likely to be living with their parents than at any other time in the past 20 years as record numbers struggle to fly the nest. There are nearly 3 million 20-34 year olds still living with parents, a 618,000 leap since 1996, according to findings from the Office for National Statistics. The “failure to launch” phenomenon means there are now millions of young adults are still in their childhood bedrooms, which seems to somehow keep them in a sort of semi-childlike, limbo state. House prices, university debts and sympathetic parents are making this generation somewhat potbound.
By 27, I’d been working for nearly 10 years. University just wasn’t an option for me as, quite honestly, I wasn’t clever enough. See 5 years of school reports! But then jobs were in abundance so I left college, went to work in a large advertising agency at the age of 18 and slowly worked my way up the ladder. Ok I only got about 3 rungs up but the parties were epic. By 22 I had bought a flat and by 26, I had a small child. It wasn’t really fashionable to go back-packing round Cambodia – well not if you valued your life. The done thing was to get on the property ladder as quickly as possible – and it was easy. House prices were reasonable and mortgages were manageable. Sadly, my kids will probably have to wait til I shuffle off this mortal coil before they can afford a deposit for a house. Come to think of it, I am starting to wonder why they keep offering me cups of tea – which, now I come to think of it, do taste rather odd.
So my advice if you’ve got giant children.
- Make sure you have a stable wifi connection.
- Make sure you’ve got ink in the printer.
- Make sure you’ve got wine in the fridge – ideally a small hidden fridge in a part of the house that they can’t be bothered to go to.
But also make sure you make the most of them. Because despite all of the above, I’ll bloody miss them when they’re gone and wouldn’t swap them for anything.
Unless anyone’s got Lego Cards 043, 095 and 107.