Here is how I knew I was an official adult - my "late nights" officially end at 11 p.m. and I get up bright and early by the sometimes happy, sometimes angry sounds of my one-year-old daughter in her crib, wanting to begin her day eating breakfast and playing with her toys.
Let's face it - getting older stinks. I remember when I was a little kid, I would get mad at my parents for making those ridiculous household rules and enforcing them. Whether it was our 9 o'clock bed time, making meals that neither myself nor my two sisters would want to eat for dinner and sending us to school when I just didn't feel like going - when you are a kid, you are always the low man on the totem pole. You must obey and follow orders, their orders.
My parents were the lucky ones in my eyes. Why? Because they were grown-ups, and grown-ups get to do all the fun things in life, right? They didn't have a bedtime, they didn't have an 11 p.m. curfew and they certainly didn't have a weekly allowance. They had all the money in the world!
Boy, was I wrong about a lot as a kid.
What I didn't realize is that my parents had to pay for bills, they had to pay for our food, our clothes and everything that we needed. Like I said, growing up isn't a lot of fun, especially like I thought it would be when I was younger.
Oh, and did I mention my parents had to work - every day?! That's not very fun. As a kid, I could come home from school, do my homework lickety-split and either hang out with my friends or build a cool teepee in the backyard.
Now, the roles have reversed in a sense. My daughter is not able to attend school yet, as she is only a year old, but I am taking on all the "adult" responsibilities that my parents did at my age.
However, one of the best things about getting older each year is that you can still celebrate your birthday, and deep inside, there is still that recollection of childhood calling. That faint glimpse into your past of what your adolescence was like is all brought back into perspective from a mere birthday.
My daughter just turned a year old in the end of October and the entire family went to Chuck E. Cheese's, which is a chain of family entertainment centers located all across the United States. At first, I was a little saddened by the fact that my daughter was already turning one year old; but at the same time it was a very joyful experience as her entire family was able to celebrate her special day with her.
Honestly, she was a little too young to understand what was going on that day. The animatronics scared her to death, and because of her short attention span, she hasn't quite grasped how to open presents. But I didn't mind helping.
I hope she truly enjoys her childhood and all of her birthdays to come, because someday she too will realize that she has turned into an adult and must take on all the responsibilities that come with it. Yet, as her parent, I can honestly say that I look forward to her birthday from now on, because it is the one day out of the year that I know I can feel like a kid again.
Sentinel reporter Tara Maguire welcomes parenting advice and stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.