FLINT - I discovered this week that I'm jealous of kids, particularly teenagers.
Not just for their annoying levels of youth and vigor, their non-achy bodies or the fact that they can eat anything they want without gaining an ounce, although I do hate them for all of that, particularly the eating thing. My metabolism is so nonexistent these days that if I consume a wedge of cheesecake it somehow becomes a wedge-shaped glob of fat that sits atop other uniquely shaped globs of fat in my abdomen that once were hamburgers, slices of pizza or pretzel sticks.
I hate middle age.
But back to being jealous of kids. The other day I realized that the entire educational system is set up to maximize the fun that kids have while adults are completely free range when it comes to a social life, which is why many of us have none.
An example: Sam, our oldest, went to prom. Proms are major events, so there were lots of preparations to be made, which Sam's date and her mom began making, near as I can tell, before she was born. They picked out a dress, ordered her corsage, bought the boutonnire (Sam: "A what?" Me: "Your flower."), handled the arrangements for the limo and dinner and bought the tickets.
Sam largely showed up. It was very much like my wedding.
At first it seemed like a lot of hassle and expense to me but as the event neared I started to envy the kids.
They had a big night planned, something to look forward to. Whereas, after helping the kids get ready for the prom and paying for it, most parents probably spent the evening at home doing pretty much the same thing they do every night.
Or maybe that's just me. But I doubt it. I think a lot of parents secretly think the problem with adult life is that we let the kids have all the fun.
But is that our fault? OK, yeah, it is. There's a whole life out there, after all. We could - after working all day, running errands and raising kids - be out doing wild and crazy things every night. And I, for one, certainly plan to do just that as soon as I hit the Lotto and hire a butler.
Until that happens, I think we grownups should create and vote for laws that put us all - everyone in society - on a school-like calendar with built-in fun and all of the details and expense handled by someone else.
Proms for adults? Check. Chess clubs and field trips? Check. Tons of time off - including Christmas breaks, spring breaks, summers off and random half-days and late starts sprinkled throughout the year? Done, done and done.
We could do this. It's our society. We can do anything we want. We'd all be happier, so why not? Your adult brain is probably already nit-picking the idea: "But wouldn't a lot of people still have to work while the rest of society is maxing, relaxing and having fun?"
Probably. But I don't have time to bother with details right now.
I have to go ask my wife to the big dance.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.