Being an adult takes a lot of flack. There are thousands of memes proclaiming how hard it is to grow up. For example, I just saw one that says, “Adulting is like looking both ways before you cross the street and then getting hit by an airplane.” You probably resonate at some level. Kids cannot wait to grow up and get the blessing of more freedom, while grown-ups wish they were still kids without the curse of more responsibilities. I’m turning 30 this year. I’m terrified, mostly because it actually is terrifying to look around and realize you’re becoming the most "responsible adult" in many situations. So I’m trying to wrestle with the question of what being a “responsible adult” even means.
The other day a couple kids stuck around after school to have a celebration of their success and we had a dance party to kick things off. Two songs in I was out of breath and by song three I was guzzling my water bottle while “taking a break”. After the dance party I was laying on the floor lamenting about getting old when London so calmly and genuinely said, “Miss Kalie, I’ll still be behind you even when you get old.” Words will always fall short in describing the overwhelming joy that comes when kids believe in you.
It made me realize that being a responsible adult is really just being an adult that kids can get behind. And that’s the best part of adulting. Being a voice that can give weight to the dreams of others.
A few days ago Michael and Ameriyae started a “business” on the bus. They gathered the whole crew to be a part of their team. The business didn’t have a name at first but the premise was that they loved paper airplanes so they wanted to make them and sell them to other people who love paper airplanes. They realized that not everyone can fold them just right, so they would make them for those people. They also realized that not everyone on their team could fold them just right so they started delegating tasks. People to hand out the paper to the folders, people to color the paper, people to apply the stickers, people to hold the finished product and of course people to tell everyone else how to do their job the right way. It was a joy to watch them work it out.
Things got real though when I was invited to be a part of the business, which by this point had been named Golden Jet. They needed someone to take their product to market.
This was the moment I realized I had a choice to make about what kind of adult I would be. Would London’s promise to me be a mutual one? One where I would say, “London I’ll still be behind you even if you’re young.” My adulting instinct was to say something like, “Guys, Golden Jet is a great idea for the bus so you keep doing your thing and I’ll do my thing.”
But London’s eyes caused me to rethink it. Golden Jet is a great idea. There are lots of people who would love a Golden Jet airplane.
So I asked a follow up question, “How much are you wanting to sell the airplanes for?”
$10 for a piece of paper seems kinda high. I was tempted to talk them down, inform them that their product didn’t hold that kind of worth, that it would never work.
Then a little voice chimed in from the back of the bus, “We want to use the money to make a giant stack of dollars and then give it to the school to pay for all the fun things we get to do.” The ideas kept rolling in...a bigger playground, a gym with the UCA logo at center court, a skating rink on the roof, trampolines, field trips, helping a UCA family who is living at a homeless shelter.
The voice in my head wouldn’t stop asking what kind of adult I was going to be. The bus was silent waiting for my response.
Here’s the thing. Being an adult has it’s challenges. Bills bite, making thousands of hard decisions feels overwhelming; there is a lot to complain about. But the joy of being an adult is getting to use your voice and your platform and your resources to invest in people. At UCA the people we are adulting for are some of the brightest scholars we know. Adulting for the sake of adulting is a vicious cycle of hard thing after hard thing. Using the gift of being an adult to fight for others is the greatest joy. It’s the golden ticket to realizing that the dream of growing up is worth it.
I said yes to investing in Golden Jet. I had the privilege of buying the very first Golden Jet airplane. It’s beautiful. Nicely folded, scribbly gold wings, and dripping with pride. I agreed to see if anyone else wanted to buy their airplanes. As they walked off the bus, kids joyfully handed me their paper airplanes, confident that I believed in their dream, inspired to make more paper airplanes on the bus ride home. At this point I don’t think it even matters if they make any money, they know that there are grown-ups who believe in them, who are rooting for them, who are behind them. And because of that they are using the gift of being a kid to fight for others...which is making adults use the gift of adulting to fight for others. When we see every gift in every season as things we can use to fight for others, suddenly the world becomes the kind of place we all dream of.
So if you want to join the Golden Jet movement we'd be happy to send you an airplane. Check out the website to learn how to purchase your very own or how to join the plane of the month club. The investment isn’t in the airplane itself (although we’re confident it will make you smile) the investment is in the scholars who will construct it with joy. Your investment is a proclamation that as grown-ups we’re behind our kids.