What difference does a day make?

Most of the time, not much, or so it seems.

But if it’s your eighteenth birthday, it could be a lot.

Today is my daughter’s eighteenth birthday. Like most parents, I can’t believe it! I’ll spare you all of the “it seems like only yesterday” blah blah stuff. Today, we’re doing the usual celebratory things – a cookout and party with family and friends. But first, we’re attending another special event: my daughter’s senior recital for her vocal lessons. She’s been practicing for this for months, working on a wide range of music from the Baroque period through modern-day musical pieces. It will be hard work for her, and a performance like none of us have ever seen: one hour of just her.

Of course, she’s been thinking a bit of what she can do, now that she’s eighteen. With her birthday this late in the year, most of her friends are already there, so she’s had plenty of time to ponder it. She can:

  • Register to vote. She’ll definitely do this, probably next month or so, even though there’s next to nothing on our ballot this November. Ironically, one of her best friends turned eighteen last year, on the last day one could register to vote in the presidential election. Because they had choir rehearsal, she did not make it in time.
  • Buy cigarettes. Yuck! That’s what she says, too. Last year, one of her friends didn’t smoke, but bought cigarettes when he turned eighteen, just because he could, LOL.
  • Buy smut. Probably not – there’s plenty of it for free on the Internet. If she does, I don’t want to know.
  • Buy a shotgun. Nope. Her dad/my husband owns several; he’ll be glad to teach her to shoot and/or take her hunting any time she wants!
  • Work full time. She would have liked to do that this summer, but hardly any place wants to hire anyone under eighteen these days, nor do they want people who just want to work summers, unless it’s a seasonal business. In those cases, they hired people back in the winter, when my daughter was busy with schoolwork. Maybe next summer!
  • Get a hotel room. This is something she will definitely do, probably for an anime con she goes to every year.
  • Join the military. Nope, she’s going to college.
  • Buy lottery tickets. Maybe? But I don’t see her being a big spender here. After all, they’re terrible odds.
  • Get married. Seeing as her boyfriend’s still in high school (his birthday is in November) and they both plan to go to college, I don’t see that happening for a while. At least I hope not!
  • Get a tattoo. We’ve talked about that. A lot of the kids she went to school with have them, but like me, she says she can’t think of anything she’d want permanently on her body for life. But who knows, that could change.
  • Get a credit card. She has a debit card, and can buy online with that, so she really doesn’t care about a credit card, but realizes it would be good to build credit. We talk about responsible spending and managing finances regularly, so I don’t worry she’d go nuts with it. We’ll see!

As for me, I did get a credit card soon after I turned eighteen – it was a Visa card, with a $300 limit that my dad cosigned for. I registered to vote too – that year was a presidential election year, and it was cool to be a part of it. I also had a full time job in the summer – they were much easier to come by in the mid-eighties! There also weren’t the restrictions on hours for people under eighteen during the summer back then. But my actual birthday? I don’t remember it at all! (And no, I wasn’t drinking! I didn’t discover that until a couple years later. :))

ROW80Logo175Which brings me to my ROW80 goals, which were rather hit-or-miss this week, due to all the party preparations:

  • Skim/read the smaller of the two research books – No. Got one chapter read, that’s all.
  • 1500 words on new ms – Yes!
  • 4 workouts – Got 3 in.

I have a few obligations this week as well, so I’m going to keep the bar low. Here’s what I want to do:

  • Skim/read three chapters in research book
  • 1500 words on new ms
  • 4 workouts

What about you – what did you do on your eighteenth birthday? What newly-legal activities did you partake in soon thereafter? 🙂  And like me, do you now have that Alice Cooper song stuck in your head? Please share – I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

How do YOU Unwrap Gifts?

A MUST for my brother's gifts

Is there one in every family? I thought it was just mine, but after a funny conversation during our gift exchange at work last week, I have to wonder.

It all started with the mention of gift bags – which not only look pretty, but can be a huge time-saver. A coworker said, “Gift bags are a MUST for my stepdaughter. I never wrap presents for her. Otherwise, she has to painstakingly remove every single piece of tape, and damage the wrapping paper as little as possible–”

ME: “Oh my gosh, my brother does that!”

COWORKER: “Yes, it’s like she has to save the paper, but she never reuses it!”

ME: “Neither does my brother!”

IN UNISON: “It drives everyone nuts!”

“My mom does that too,” another coworker said. “But she actually does reuse the paper.”

Coworker #1 and I agreed that this was different, as there was a reason for preserving the paper.

Yet another coworker wondered how old these relatives are, thinking they were children.

COWORKER #1: “She’s twenty-one!”

ME: “He’s forty!”

Somehow, I bet this guy is one of those who unwraps s-l-o-o-o-w

Coworker #1 theorizes that her stepdaughter does this because the longer it takes her to unwrap her gift, the longer she gets to be the center of attention.

I’m not sure what my brother’s motivation is. Maybe he just likes to savor the moment and the anticipation. He’s unwrapped presents this way since he was a little kid, and after a few years of suffering through packages that took him a half-hour or more to open, the family got so that we simply moved on and ignored him, only returning attention to him once he got his gift unwrapped. He’s been married for six or seven years, and his wife and mother-in-law still give him wrapped gifts. Invariably, he’s still sitting on the floor with unopened presents long after everyone else is done and people are leaving.

I, on the other hand, dig into my gifts with gusto. Paper flies, and is always torn through the middle. When I was a little kid, my parents always found it amusing. I throw the paper less now, but I still have fun.

What about you? Do you tear into your presents like a tornado, or savor the anticipation? Do you have a family member who unwraps presents piece-of-tape by meticulously-removed-piece-of-tape? Or if you’re “that guy,” what’s your reason for dragging it out so long? Curious minds want to know!

Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope you have (or had) a wonderful one! Or if you don’t celebrate, here’s hoping you at least enjoyed a day off work, or good pay if you didn’t even get that.

Photos via Microsoft Office Clipart